Form Running or Interval Training- Which is More Effective?

Most runners utilize interval training, or alternating short and intense running intervals with recovery periods, to improve speed, endurance, motivation, and even to burn more fat in workouts.

Running form drills are another method long utilized by track coaches to improve performance.  These drills are increasingly popular among recreational runners to help decrease injuries from technique.  But do they really help?

This study, from the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, tries to answer that question.   In it, 30 recreational runners did interval training three times per week  for 15 weeks (interested my favorite interval programs?  check them out below).  Half those runners added running form drills (listed below) to their interval workouts.

At the end of the 15 weeks, both groups increased running speed.  The group that added the form running drills did not get any faster.   Pretty contradictory to what you’d think, right?  Well, here’s my take:

Drills that are INDIVIDUAL to your running form, injury history, and biomechanics are likely the most effective at improving YOUR performance.  #getBETTER

 

CLE SPORTS PT’S “FAVORITE” INTERVAL PROGRAM

(*Note-  these are not the programs used in the study.  They are simpler, and easier to follow/progress than what was listed in the study).  Do one of the workouts below twice per week for best results.

Program 1

  • 5 minute warm-up
  • Training:  start with 5 of these cycles.  Add 1-2 cycles per week until you get to 10-15 cycles, depending on your goal (15 cycles is 40 minutes of work; 10 cycles is 26 minutes and 40 seconds)
    • 30 second “stride” (75% of max speed)
    • 10 second all-out sprint
    • 2 minute recovery
  • 5 minute cool-down

Program 2

  • 5 minute warm-up
  • Training:  start with 7 of these cycles.  Add 1-2 cycles per week until you get to 15-20 cycles, depending on your goal (20 cycles is 33 minutes and 20 seconds; 15 cycles is 25 minutes of work)

RUNNING DRILLS

(Used in the study.  Want drills personalized to your running form and goals?  Contact CLE Sports PT & Performance below):

  • Perform each drill twice for 50m (jog back to start)
    • High knees:  run forward bringing knees as high as possible
    • Single leg hop:  jump upward on one leg; land on the same leg
    • Sprint:  run at maximal speed
    • Butt kicks:  run forward with heels touching butt
    • Bounding:  while running forward, jump as far as possible with each step, emphasizing a high knee lift

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