High Intensity Interval Training and Running

High intensity interval training, often called HIIT, can provide results quickly and effectively. If you are a runner and are looking for a way to get in shape for long distance runs or you are looking to lose or maintain weight, then this article should provide you with enough to help you get started on your own HIIT running sessions.

HIIT sessions, whether or not it is applied to running or any other exercise, requires a strict disciplinary mindset. With this, it should go without stating that it does take a significant amount of time and energy to be successful at HIIT running sessions.

In order to excel or perform at a level that can achieve the results you are looking for, a basic understanding of HIIT needs to be established along with basic techniques of the proper running form.

Running is often considered the most physically demanding exercise as it requires all of your muscles to be in sync with each coordinating muscle to function in the act of running. Before any run or jog, it is essential to some sort of stretch routine. This can save you from experiencing pain and discomfort before or after your session. If you stretch incorrectly, you may be prone to injury later. Stretch your muscles gradually, do not apply a stretch too quickly. Remember the most important rule about stretching is to not bounce. This is a common mistake that many succumb too because of muscle discomfort when stretching. When you feel the “burn”, this is your body’s way of letting you know that you are stretching correctly.

Here are some of the stretches recommended before a run that should be applied two to three times for 30 to 40 seconds.

Wall Pushup #1
Stand about three feet from a wall, feet at shoulder width and flat on the ground. Put your hands on the wall with your arms straight for support. Lean your hips forward and bend your knees slightly to stretch your calves.
Wall Pushup #2
From the previous position, bend forward to lower your body to waist height. Bring one foot forward with your knee slightly bent. Lift the toes of the front foot to stretch the muscle under the calf. Stretch both legs.
Wall Pushup #3
Put your feet together, rocking back on your heels with your hands on the wall and your arms straight to form a jackknife with your body. This stretches your hips, shoulders, and lower back.
Back Scratch
Grab your elbow with the opposite hand and gently push the elbow up and across your body until your hand reaches down to “scratch” your back. Gently push on your elbow to guide your hand down your back as far as it will comfortably go, stretching your triceps and shoulders. Stretch both arms.

Hamstring Stretch

Lie down with one leg straight up in the air, the other bent with foot flat on the ground. Loop a towel over the arch of the lifted foot, and gently pull on the towel as you push against it with your foot. Push only to the point where your muscles contract; Stretch both legs.
Quadriceps Stretch
Kneel on your knees (without resting back on your heels). Lean back with your body erect and your arms to the side and then hold for 15 seconds.
Heel To Buttock
Stand on one foot, with one hand on a wall for balance. Hold the other foot with the opposite hand and raise the heel of the lifted foot to the buttocks (or as close as comfortably possible), stretching your quadriceps. Keep your body upright throughout. Change legs and repeat.
Hip & Lower Back Stretch
Sit on the ground with your legs crossed. Lift your right leg and cross it over the left, which should remain bent. Hug the right leg to your chest and twist the trunk of your body to look over your right shoulder. Change legs and repeat (i.e. looking over your left shoulder).

Iliotibial Band Stretch
Lie on your side with both legs bent in running position. Bring the bottom leg toward your chest and then bring the top one back toward your buttocks, so that the running position of your legs is exaggerated as possible. Hold for 30 seconds then flip sides and repeat.

Hamstring & Back Stretch
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Hug your shins to your chest to stretch your hamstrings and lower back.
Lie on your back and, with your feet flat on the ground, lift your hips up until your body forms a flat plane. Repeat this one ten times for 30 seconds each to stretch your quads and lower back.
Groin Stretch
Seated, put the soles of your feet together. With your elbows on the inside of your knees, gradually lean forward and gently press your knees toward the ground.
After you have properly stretched the next step is a warm-up jog. You’ll want to make sure to NOT skip this step, especially if you’re looking to burn fat. Make sure to run for at least 5-8 minutes during this warm-up. Here’s why: when you first start running you burn glycogen, a special sugar stored in the muscles for a needed burst of energy. During this period fat is not burned. This process is called anaerobic metabolism. Often during the first few minutes of strenuous activity, especially during anaerobic metabolism, you may experience burning in muscles of your arms, legs or back. This is due to the creation of lactic acid which occurs when glycogen is burned. This burning sensation will soon go away.
As you exercise more than three minutes you will eventually burn up all of the glycogen stored within the muscles and your muscles will move into aerobic metabolism. When this occurs, lactic acid production is stopped. This occurs because the glycogen is now being burned in the presence of oxygen which is brought to the muscles by way of the blood stream. As long as you breathe correctly you will bring oxygen to the muscles and this process will continue.
After your warm-up, it is strongly advised to take a walk, usually half the distance you did your warm-up. This helps you maintain your focus and will help the heart become steady.
Now that you have completed your warm-up and cool down, it is time to do a HIIT session. This will consist of splits of one minute to thirty seconds. Your first minute will be a steady paced jog, then; the next thirty seconds will be a fast paced run but do not over do it. After that, go back to jogging for one minute and repeat the cycle. For beginners it is recommend for a 4 minute session gradually working your way up an additional one minute per week, three to five times a week, for eight weeks. Following this routine, a one week break should allow your body un-adept to the conditions it has been through during the eight week routine. For moderate or experienced runners, it is suggested that a 15 minute session for seven to eight weeks, three to five times a week be used. Again, wait a week for your body to un-adept itself.
Why does this work? In recent studies, HIIT has been shown to burn adipose tissue more effectively than low-intensity exercise—up to 50% more efficiently. In other words, HIIT speeds up your metabolism and keeps it revved up for some time after your workout. HIIT training burns a greater number of total calories than low-intensity training, and more calories burned equals more fat lost.
But that’s not all it can do for you. Assume that the average HIIT runner runs at 1.5 mile session three to five times a week. During any off day, days that falls between a HIIT session day, that runner could easily run double that, at a steady pace. Why? Because your body is used to having to run hard, fast paces. By running a non-HIIT session, your breathing will be stable and thus making it possible to run further.
After your HIIT session, it is recommended doing a cool down walk. This should last for at least 10 minutes. Your muscles will then have to become used to walking, a simple stretch that will ensure better performance in the future. Again, after your run, do a stretch. Your muscles will thank you in the end.

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