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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 08, 2010

Dear Mark: I Hate Running

By Mark Sisson
110 Comments

Treadmill RunningHey Mark,

I’m in the Army National Guard. I would really like to follow your workout guidelines, especially with regard to cardio (I actually hate running and I’m not very good at long distance), but with regard to the Army Physical Fitness test, which I have to pass, I have to run 2 miles in a set amount of time, less than 16 minutes essentially. I feel like the only way I can maintain this is to do sustained running sessions about 3 times a week for about 20 minutes a shot (Again, I hate running, haha). Do you think if I follow all of the workout advice in the Primal Blueprint, I can still pass this test?

Great question, and I’m glad you asked. The endurance training question presents a conundrum that plagues many of my readers, I’m sure, no matter how often I sound the drum against Chronic Cardio. Conventional Wisdom can be a nagging, persistent shrew, after all. So, how can avoiding long distance moderate-high intensity cardio in favor of slow moving (walking, hiking, etc) and sprinting possibly increase one’s aerobic capacity? On the surface, it defies logic. Train long to race long; train short to race short and fast, just like you lift heavy things if you want to move heavy things and get strong… right? Not quite. Or, rather, not necessarily. Read on.

I recall a little over a year ago, a somewhat similar question from a reader popped up. She wanted advice on training for a cross-country run (literally – she wanted to run across the entire United States) while sticking to the Primal laws. I had to be frank with her and withhold my blessing. Running a few thousand miles simply isn’t something we’re meant to do. Walking? Trekking? Hiking a thousand miles? Sure, Grok ranged far and wide. How else did human populations span the globe? But our ancestors did not make like Forrest Gump and run simply for the sake of running. It may have been bad news to her, but it was the right advice.

I’ve got some good news for you, though: the Primal Blueprint Fitness program is tailor-made for situations like yours. See, I was in a similar boat when I embarked on my initial Primal journey (You think running for 20 minutes is bad? Try running 1-3 hours straight, day after day for a decade!). Like you, I eventually decided I wanted to maintain a basic level of overall fitness, one that’d allow me to run a 10k (in the rare case that I actually felt like running one) without much trouble. I wanted to have a good strength-to-body weight ratio, and I was insistent on sparing my joints from overuse injuries and basic wear-and-tear (which should be anything but “basic”!). I wanted to be able to play fast, fun sports or to snowboard all weekend and be able to bounce out of bed on Monday without debilitating soreness. I did not, however, want to devote fifteen hours a week to the gym or the track. I was interested in shortcuts, in research-based fitness hacks that would keep me strong, fast, and fit without massive time commitments. I suppose I wanted it all, physically – who doesn’t, though? It’s completely natural, totally healthy, and – in my opinion – absolutely required for optimum health and happiness. The physical side of life needn’t be fraught with hesitance and plodding progress. You want to bound up the stairs, not hold on to the guardrails for dear life (or take the escalator).

You, reader, want to have the ability to run for moderately long distances without actually having to run moderately long distances. In short, you want to have your cake and eat it, too. This is entirely possible (ironically, you’ll probably have to give up sweetened, cereal grain-based baked goods for best results), even (or especially) within the confines of the relatively minimalist Primal Fitness regimen. You don’t actually have to engage in a hated activity to get better at performing said activity. You hate running, so don’t run much. It’s a pretty simple concept, but it’s one that too many fitness gurus ignore in favor of mantras like “No pain, no gain.” There’s some validity to that line of thinking – you do have to push yourself and keep up the intensity to get the most benefits from certain kinds of training, namely strength and sprinting – but to apply it blindly to all aspects of fitness is folly. For one, not everything (like sustained, low-level walking or hiking) should be performed at maximum intensity, and secondly, a fitness program has to be sustainable for it to be successful. If you make a trainee hate his or her life every workout session, chances are high that he or she will eventually stop coming.

But enough pontificating. Exactly how do Lifting Heavy Things, Moving Frequently at a Slow Pace, and Running Really Fast Once in Awhile positively impact your “long distance” endurance capacity? How do you get better at something without actually doing it often?

You’re probably familiar with Dr. Tabata’s famous experiment; I’ve mentioned it before. Tabata had subjects cycle in what has become known as Tabata intervals – eight sets of 20-second intervals of maximum intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest – every weekday for six weeks (abstract). Compared to the subjects’ modest aerobic gains on a traditional 6-week moderate intensity endurance program, the Tabata subjects saw gains in both anaerobic and aerobic capacity. They got better at endurance training without performing classical endurance training, whereas the guys doing moderate intensity endurance training only improved their aerobic capacities.

In a more recent study by Kirsten Burgomaster, two weeks of sprint interval training, for a total of six sessions, were enough to increase muscle oxidative potential (resting muscle glycogen content) and aerobic endurance capacity in trainees. Subjects performed four to seven 30 second “all out” cycling reps, each separated by four minutes of recovery time. VO2 max was not increased, but this strangely didn’t impact or impair their aerobic capacity, which “increased by 100%.” That’s right – just fifteen minutes of actual sprint training was enough to double endurance capacity within two weeks’ time.

Burgomaster wasn’t through, though; in a 2007 study, she discovered that the metabolic adaptations produced by low-volume sprint training are remarkably similar to those produced by traditional endurance training. Two groups of “active but untrained” (that’s a fairly representative demographic, wouldn’t you say?) men and women were given six weeks of either sprint training or endurance training. Sprint training consisted of thrice weekly, four to six rep sessions of 30 second sprints/4.5 minute rests; endurance training consisted of 45-60 minute continuous cycling sessions, five times a week. The sprinters spent about one and a half hours each week (with most of that time spent resting) on the bikes, while the endurance subjects gave up four and a half hours each week (with most of that time spent pedaling). Huge time commitment discrepancy, and yet there was no discernible difference in metabolic outcomes. In fact, the authors conclude that sprint interval training is the more “time-efficient strategy” to obtain the benefits of endurance training. You don’t say.

How about arterial stiffness? Long distance Chronic Cardio has always been touted as the most “heart healthy” exercise regimen, but another study showed that sprint interval training is just as effective at improving arterial stiffness and flow-mediated dilation (FMD analysis is useful for early detection of atherosclerosis).

And how about actual performance outcomes? Another study found that low volume sprint interval training conferred rapid adaptations in skeletal muscle and exercise capacity – similar to those obtained via high volume endurance training.

Plus, there are other benefits entirely unrelated to increased endurance capacity that accompany sprint training. Sprinting increases anabolic hormones, including GH and testosterone (while keeping cortisol constant). It also improves insulin sensitivity quickly and efficiently, an especially relevant benefit for an otherwise sedentary or time-strapped populace. Simply put, it’s a quick way to get a fantastic workout without disrupting your strength training progress or your endurance training. In fact, weekly sprints are the perfect accompaniment to any regimen, which is why I include them in my Primal Blueprint Fitness program. It’s most likely the reason Grok was always fit enough to run long distances when he had to – without ever training specifically (i.e. Chronic Cardio) for that ability.

Bottom line: You don’t have to jog for half an hour every day to improve your aerobic endurance. You don’t have to waste your time doing something you hate. You can – and should – seek out fitness shortcuts whenever possible. They make staying fit more manageable and more sustainable, and they free up time for more leisurely, pleasurable pursuits. In the end, physical fitness is a tool; it serves us. We should never become slaves to the iron, to the track, or to the stopwatch. Work hard, yeah, but work fast and make it as short and as sweet as possible.

You’ll definitely pass the test. Increase the sprints to twice or thrice weekly, just to be safe (if you’re really worried). Then, maybe once every few weeks, test yourself in that two-mile to measure your progress. Let us know how it goes!

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110 Comments on "Dear Mark: I Hate Running"

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primalclubber
primalclubber
6 years 7 months ago

I also dislike running so all I do are 40-100 yd (x8-12) sprints and will occasionally run a set 2mi flat course for fun (once or twice a month). I usually run it in 14-15 mins at moderate intensity so it’s very doable, and I just turned 50.

Johnny
6 years 7 months ago

“VO2 max was not increased, but this strangely didn’t impact or impair their aerobic capacity, which ‘increased by 100%.'”

This has been shown in other areas, specifically in elite Tour De France cyclists, in which a study found that toward the peak season (the big race) the VO2M of the competitors actually dropped, indicating an improvement in the motor system.

Data are suggesting that endurance is not all about VO2max.

Best,
Johnny

trackback

[…] Original post by Mark Sisson […]

Terry
Terry
6 years 7 months ago
I Have been in the Army for 10 years and the first 7 i only did Army PT. about 3 years ago I started doing crossfit, mabey 2 or 3 times a month I will run for longer than 2 miles at a time. Not only do I feel stronger in all aspects of my life, I have also droped 15 sec off my 2 mile time. I have a P.T. test next week and believe I can Max in every event based of the 18-21 category. Not only that but sprinting and higher intensity training has a direct relation… Read more »
Terry
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

Im 31 by the way.

Ken Hicks
6 years 7 months ago

Terry,

I’m 42 and have never served in the military… so I just wanted to say thanks for serving, it’s much appreciated.

Ken

Terry
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

Thank you. I appreciate it

Paul Von Tersch
Paul Von Tersch
6 years 7 months ago

I guess this is as good a place as any to ask this question. It’s been on my mind for a while now. I’m wondering, does running long distances 10-15 necessarily count as chronic cardio? I mean, i’m running them slow enough to hardly sweat becuase I run to class and to work. I’m not really even out of breath when I’m running.

Is that chronic cardio or not? I’ve heard that at slow paces (like what i run: 9 minute miles or slower) that the body burns mainly fat. Is this true?

Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago
At lower level aerobics (like walking or hiking), a higher contribution to your energy output does come from fat. The overall calorie expenditure is relatively low, however, compared to more intense work (running, sprinting, etc.). The overall amount of calorie expended will contribute more to a negative energy balance. But I wouldn’t rely on physical activity (at any level) to create a negative energy balance for fat loss. There’s value in doing longer, lower level aerobics like walking: Increase in fat cell metabolism, mitochondrial activity, decrease in inflammation, stimulating blood flow for recovery — and all without the acute increase… Read more »
Kishore
Kishore
6 years 7 months ago

True, but the energy required to RECOVER from high bouts of effort is what makes Tabata protocol very effective. Not to mention the rise in anabolic hormones from this stimulus.

Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago
Agreed, but there is no evidence that this leads to long-term fat loss. The Tabata study found the greatest impact of this protocol was an increase in VO2max. The hormonal response of such a protocol was also huge. The excessive post-exercise oxygen compensation (post-workout energy utilization for recovery) was shown to be appreciable, but studies show that this occurs mostly in ELITE athletes, and not so much in the average person. But even if the post-workout recovery is costly in all individuals, there is still no evidence that this directly leads to long-term fat loss. Which I suppose is the… Read more »
Kishore
Kishore
6 years 7 months ago
Acute exercise,extended over a period of time, reduces expression of the obesity gene. Zheng et al. The effect of exercise on ob gene expression. Biochem Biophys Res Commun (1996). Abstract: Expression of the ob (obesity) gene is subject to nutritional as well as hormonal regulation to control fat storage. In the present study we investigated the effect of acute exercise and long-term exercise training on ob mRNA levels in rat adipose tissue. Northern blot analysis showed that a single bout of exercise significantly decreased ob mRNA levels approximately 30% immediately and 3 hr after exercise. After 4 weeks of exercise… Read more »
Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago

I’ve seen this study before, and it still doesn’t prove that exercise causes long-term fat loss in human. A reduction in the expression of the obesity gene does not equal fat loss. A reduction of expression in the obesity gene more likely means a PREVENTION of weight gain (or re-gain), as I mentioned.

Kishore
Kishore
6 years 7 months ago

ok Mr. know it all…

Johnny at The Lean Saloon
6 years 7 months ago

I wish! 🙂

Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago

I wish that were true! 🙂

Cynthia
6 years 7 months ago
Phil Maffetone (well known as Mark Allen’s coach when he won Ironman) recommends that people do most of their training at or below their aerobic maximum HR, which he determined by actually measuring expired CO2 (the respiratory exchange ratio measures fat vs glucose burned for fuel). This is basically 180 minus your age, so not very high. At this HR, there is much less stress on the body, more fat is burned during exercise, and less injuries occur. (Most coaches recommend something similar- a lot of “easy” runs and a few “hard”). Many people complain when they train by his… Read more »
Kishore
Kishore
6 years 7 months ago

Dr. Ken Cooper who coined the word ‘aerobics’ found out that the heart stops conditioning after 22 minutes. Anything more than that is not done for health reasons. But whoever said torturing yourself through a marathon was healthy anyway!
Also, chronic cardio raises cortisol levels and fatigues the adrenals.

Aaron Fraser
6 years 7 months ago

Fascinating stuff, for sure.

I have been getting a lot of comments from friends who are training for half-marathons and such (avoiding the “are you SURE that’s something you want to do?” conversation thus far), and trying to figure out ways to develop a training regimen that fits within the PB.

If someone really wants to run for 16 miles, I’m not going to be able to stop them – but I -can- do some damage control.

Organic Gabe
6 years 7 months ago

Very interesting. I have done mostly 60 minute cardio workouts 4 times weekly, but recently mixed it with long walks and short sprints and I do feel stronger.
I am debating whether to stop the long cardio sessions altogether or not. At this point I am hesitant to do that.

trackback

[…] Original post by Mark Sisson […]

Chiara
Chiara
6 years 7 months ago

Hello,
I am confused, because what you write makes sense, but i have also read a book, “why we run”, by a scientist who studied human physiology and found that it is optimised for endurance running in hot climates (for “running antelopes to death”) and this is also confirmed in a recent paper by another prof of evolutionary biology. In why we run, the author also discusses how he prepared for a marathon and honestly it does not sound too healthy to me, but still… the evolutionary biology points they make do make sense.

references below:

http://www.amazon.de/Why-We-Run-Natural-History/dp/0060958707

http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~skeleton/pdfs/2009a.pdf

Timothy
Timothy
6 years 7 months ago
I also wonder if running is getting an unnecessarily bad rap. There are certainly places in this world (e.g. East Africa) where distance running seems a natural part of aboriginal life. Besides, running (in moderation) just feels too good — before, during, and after — to be that bad for you. It’s easy to imagine Grok and friends taking down a big kill a couple miles from home, and then having to run the meat back in separate trips quickly enough to outpace the scavengers and the elements. Something like this must have happened fairly often. And it’s not a… Read more »
John S
John S
6 years 7 months ago

The archaeological record shows that our ancestors were able to leisurely render meat from hunts directly at the kill site, indicating that they had become top level predators with no need to either eat quickly or run away from scavengers and other predators.

Matthew Odette
6 years 7 months ago
I spent just over two years in Seal training. The form of running that helped the most to get my 1.5 mile run time down to 8:54 back when I had just dep’d in and qualified seal was Interval Running. For interval running you want to warm up as it’s hard on your legs. But, it will make you comfortable running at faster speeds. After a 5-8 minute warm up. Do your first interval (1/4 mile) at a pace slightly faster than you would run a mile at. For example: the reader needs to maintain just under an 8 minute… Read more »
WOWO
WOWO
6 years 7 months ago

So you trained but didn’t make the cut?

Matthew Odette
6 years 7 months ago
No not exactly. I passed out underwater during a revolution. I got water in my lungs so I had to go to the hospital and have them pumped. I won the wrong lottery that day and got the one civilian Doc dumb enough to open his mouth about my childhood asthma with my Chief in the room. Even asthma that doesn’t exist any more is a big no no in spec war. I was asmod back and given the option of a desk job or a medical discharge. I could of stayed to fight my case, but then I would… Read more »
WOWO
WOWO
6 years 7 months ago

That sucks how one specialist could put a wrench in the gears. Good to hear that you another opp, I’m sure you’ll make it.

Best of luck!

Joshua Tenner
5 years 28 days ago

Man, could have cut the milk out of your diet and moved on? Seriously. Childhood asthma doesn’t even mean you have it now. The government is always lacking in the intelligence department anyway.

Michael
Michael
6 years 7 months ago
I think it necessary to be aware that in these types of studies the subjects are almost always “untrained”. Virtually any novel stress introduced to them will provide innumerable physiological adaptations. That noted, although this phenomenon (and methodological flaw) may be detrimental in proving scientifically the physiological adaptations in instances of physical specificity, I think this multifarious adaptive response serves as a boon to the practice of “general physical preparedness” (i.e. running 2 miles if you have to). When it comes down to it, it doesn’t take a highly trained individual to run 2 miles in 16 minutes. Because of… Read more »
Michael
Michael
6 years 7 months ago

“it is a task that merits specified training” should be it is NOT a task that merits specified training.

primalclubber
primalclubber
6 years 7 months ago

Back in the early ’80s I ran a lot of 10k’s and being a busy college student didn’t have the many hours available for the LSD style running that was the norm during that era. Instead I ran hard 3 milers (18-19 min) 4 days a week and yet was able to run 39-40 min 10k’s on a regular basis. Maybe it’s because of that experience that “running really fast once in a while” made sense to me.

Danny
Danny
6 years 7 months ago
I’m not against interval training by any means, but do think there are a couple points worth mentioning. One of the greatest running coaches of all time, Arthur Lydiard, used high volume, long slow distance running, to train his all of runners, from middle to long distances. This model of training has been used extensively to train the most dominant runners in the world, the East Africans. Furthermore, our ancestors evolved as endurance pack hunters, not sprinters. Think about it, by comparison to game animals, we are absurdly slow, but it is our ability to endure running long distances in… Read more »
Kelda
Kelda
6 years 7 months ago

But the East Africans also come down to the track and run multiple stupid silly fast 400s once a week as well. And their long slow is just that long (120 plus miles a week) and slow (9 – 10 min miling). From what I’ve seen those that following this style go wrong because they simply don’t run slow enough. They do typical ‘chronic cardio’ sessions.

As a model for sucessful long distance running goes they must be the best, how healthy they are though I know not! Or what they eat!

Danny
Danny
6 years 7 months ago

I almost forgot. Here’s a video of how, most likely, primal man hunted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wI-9RJi0Qo

Matt Stone
6 years 7 months ago

Running isn’t endurace training. A “long” run is what, an hour or two? Of course hiking builds better endurance – you actually do it for a long period of time. Going on a couple 4-6 hour hikes per week when weather permits will achieve a lot more with a lot less collateral damage. There’s no doubt about it – at least as it pertains to everyday healthy living.

Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago

Absolutely agreed. The past decade has seen an Anaerobic Epidemic.

People now fear longer walks or hiking of a couple of hours or more.

Kishore
Kishore
6 years 7 months ago

But you still find that commercial gyms are full of aerobicizers plodding away on the treadmill or stationary bike with no real intensity and they look the same or fatter 6 months later from adrenal fatigue and cortisol. The leanest athletes on the planet are sprinters and middle-weight weightlifters (eventhough they never do cardio) in addition to being the most flexible after gymnasts.

Cynthia
6 years 7 months ago
No true at all. Sprinters always do warm up and cool down at an easy pace. I was once a sprinter and hated the slow running, but now I enjoy it. Weight lifters are also advised to do cardio to increase mitochondrial and capillary density (see Eric Cressey’s article http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/cardio_confusion ). Nothing terribly long or fast, but still aerobic. And people doing figure/body building competitions may do hours of cardio (lower HR effort) along with weight training to get their body fat down as low as possible. The aerobicizers are still eating badly/too much. That’s the problem. I doubt many… Read more »
Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago

That’s because this is all they do.

Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago

That’s because this is all the aerobicizers do.

Kelda
Kelda
6 years 7 months ago

Most plodders at the gym think they’ve burned 600 calories (as that’s what the machine tells them) so they go and have that cream cake they’ve just earned, that’s why they get fatter!

Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago

Yep, exactly.

Kishore
Kishore
6 years 7 months ago
Cynthia, I made a few points there, what are you trying to disprove? Chronic cardio most definitely causes adrenal fatigue and cortisol rise. You just have to look at the umbilical skin fold (a direct indicator of cortisol levels) of any aerobicizer to conclude that. The amount of calories burned during low level cardio is never significant. Active recovery at best. But no need to go through 45 minutes of boring treadmill running to nowhere. Also, it down regulates gene expression towards FT fibers. Uber strength coach Charles Poliquin has concluded that the more upper body aerobic work you do,… Read more »
Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago

Woah, Kishor, you’re all over the place. I initially referred to walking and hiking, and Cynthia is talking about short warm-ups, and also points out that people fitness competitors do hours of “cardio” to decrease body fat to extremely low levels.

Also, if umbilical skin fold is a direct indicator of cortisol level, then your statement has been proven wrong by thousands of physique competitors who perform hours of cardio.

But I think we can all agree that sports competition isn’t always the healthiest thing for us, regardless of body composition.

Best,
Johnny

Ryan Denner
6 years 7 months ago

“You, reader, want to have the ability to run for moderately long distances without actually having to run moderately long distances. In short, you want to have your cake and eat it, too.”

I bursted out laughing when I read this!

Sue
Sue
6 years 7 months ago

So did I… but it is the truth!

primalclubber
primalclubber
6 years 7 months ago

The guy wants to string two 8-min miles together, not run head to head with Bernard Lagat. Mark is simply offering alternatives to running 100-mile weeks (which is why Mark started MDA), where Arthur Lydiard required his elite runners to do in the volume phase of their training. BTW Lagat includes intervals during his speed phase albiet they are 4:20 min mile intervals. Then again, running is his profession.

Tanner
6 years 7 months ago

I used to be a big hater on runnning but since my past Summer job was running up and down the beach in the sand for 10+ hours a day talking to chicks and families, I sort of found a passion for it. It used to be so hard, now it seems so easy and is relaxing to go for a short jog once in awhile.

I do want to take up hiking and some other forms of aerobic activity though. Any recommendations on where to start?

Accipiter Circus
Accipiter Circus
6 years 7 months ago

This is definitely true of most crossfitters. They rarely run more than a 100, 200, 400, or 800m sprint and yet manage to keep their times and improve on their 5K and 10K times

John R
John R
6 years 7 months ago

Didn’t Glassman once say that someone doing the full WODs as prescribed (and nothing else) should be able to run up to 10k or so and be competitive on a local-road-race level?

Mark
Mark
6 years 7 months ago

True. A couple of the coaches at my local Crossfit gym decided last year (on the spur of the moment, no less!) to try a super-marathon (50+ miles). Neither of them was an endurance runner by any means, and without anything other than standard Crossfit training they not only finished with respectable times, they also were competitive with the other super-marathoners who do this crazy stuff all the time!

Mark Sisson
6 years 7 months ago

Mark, that’s the most impressive proof of all that we – and our ancestors – were “born to run” but don’t necessarily have to run a lot (ie “train”) to be fit enough to cover great distances. Thanks for that anecdote.

mark rottman
mark rottman
6 years 7 months ago
I was a runner for 43 years. Beginning last summer I had sacro-illiac joint pain. I stopped running started a back strengthening program, walked, mountain biked, paddled my kayak, and swam. I also did nordic walking a few times a week. I am now pain free feel like I have a lot more endurance. I was afraid to stop running as I felt my cross country ski performance would suffer. I find I am actually better. I still mix in some short runs with walks and periodically do short sprints but no continuos runs. Wish I would have done this… Read more »
Caveman Sam
6 years 7 months ago

I’m in the Air National Guard and just separated from Active-duty Air Force after 6 years. I was faced with the same problem about a year ago and decided I’d just stop doing the long cardio. In the AF we do a 1.5 mile run rather than 2 but my times increased dramatically. So much so that the Chief (high-ranking enlisted Airman) asked what I was doing and then asked me to teach others who were struggling to make their times. We had a whole group of sprinters out on the parade grounds once a week. 🙂

Neal
6 years 7 months ago

I’d like to do better in the 1.5 too. What’s the best way to go about it??

Caveman Sam
6 years 7 months ago
Interval sprints. There are many ways to go about it but I’ve found that doing 400 yards as fast as you can and then walking for 400 then repeating as many times as you’re comfortable with is best for me. Do that once a week for three months and You could shave massive amounts of time of your run. When I first came in I was doing the 1.5 in the low 10s. Then i got fat and slow and was struggling to do it in under 13. Now I can beat my original times. There’s something to this whole… Read more »
Miss Kitty
Miss Kitty
6 years 7 months ago
Hate to bring up your “favourite show” Mark, but your wisdom really rung true on the Biggest Loser last week. The guy who usually does gentle exercise in the pool each week because of an injury was talked back into doing a gruelling gym workout, and lost less than he ever had (and ended up having to go home) The woman who has just had lapriscopic surgery and only did gentle walking for a few days lost more than she ever had from killing herself in the gym. Your method proves time and time again that you don’t have to… Read more »
lbd
lbd
6 years 7 months ago

Hey Mark – did you change something in the last hour or so on the website? The headings on the blog posts are very strange looking/overriding words, etc. I use Safari if that helps.

And great post, but the way…

lbd
lbd
6 years 7 months ago

Whatever the glitch was, it went away – sorry about that!

jinushaun
jinushaun
6 years 7 months ago

I have to agree with Mark. If you’re looking for a “shortcut,” sprinting/intervals is about as close as you’re gonna get. For such a short distance as 2 miles, a couple of hundred meters of intervals will help you out a lot with less of a time committment than traditional running.

When I was training for my marathon last year, I always saw improvement during my long runs when I did intervals that week. I didn’t get the same benefit doing the 6 mi “maintenance” runs.

drew
drew
6 years 7 months ago

Yestreday I ran my first race ever, the Rose Bowl 1/2 Marathon. I’m 42M and finished in the top 25% of my age group. I do Crossfit WoDs 5 days a week, which sometimes include 400/800 meter runs an occasionally (2 times a month) include 1 mile runs. I did no other running training.

Bottom line, you do not have to train long distances to run long distances!

Mary
Mary
6 years 7 months ago
I know this is not related but this doubt it’s been in my head for a while now… and the ATP-PC post is kinda old =S When you do explosive movements like sprinting or lifting really heavy weights the energy utilized comes from stored ATP, right? How is this process carried on when you have no stored glycogen due the fact you are on a ketogenic/VLC-ZC diet? (Assuming no gluconeogenesis is taking place either) I ask because after I became keto-adapted (currently vlc-zc) I can now sprint and do heavy lifting without major issues (recovery time is longer thou), …… Read more »
Mark Sisson
6 years 7 months ago

Mary, your body still makes and stores glycogen overnight on a LC or VLC diet. There’s almost always enough to hammer through a short workout. Now, if you tried to do a second workout that day, you’d probably have a tough time.

JP M
JP M
6 years 7 months ago

look into viking warrior conditioning.

Better than tabata (in my opinion) (the author also illustrate why his time ratio is better), and, you get to use kettlebells instead of running. You burn fat, build endurance, gain strength and muscle and you are done quick…

Todd
6 years 7 months ago
I am a 5K runner (3.1 miles)… how do I train? Just normal exercising. I never run 3 miles. Never. The only time I run 3 miles is for the 5K run. I started them for the first time last summer. I ran in 5 total with my best time at 21:02 – a 6:47 mile pace. I LOVE interval sprinting and use to do it everyday I worked out. Now, as I read this site more and more I have decided to do interval sprinting once a week and engage in more lower level aerobic activity while cycling for… Read more »
tess
tess
6 years 7 months ago

Mark, this article gave me an idea…. i’ve never liked running, and don’t have a handy beach or park either — do you suppose i might get the benefit of sprinting by running up my four flights of stairs, walking back down, then doing it over again a few times? 🙂

Mark Sisson
6 years 7 months ago

Tess, absolutely.

Todd
Todd
6 years 7 months ago

Walking can be surprisingly beneficial for endurance. I was running a mile a day, went to Europe where I basically didn’t exercise at all except for walking (but lots of it!), and not only ended up losing a bit of weight (despite the much heavier beer consumption) but also could run my miles more easily. I thought that first run when I got back was going to kill me but I ended up being less tired than usual afterwards even though the pace was the same.

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6 years 7 months ago

[…] MDA on Running […]

Johno
6 years 7 months ago

I’ve just finished reading Primal Blueprint and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that makes so much sense. I’m excited to get started, I’m a personal trainer and I can’t wait to start using some of this stuff with my clients. They’re going to be extatic at the thought of less cardio. Who wouldn’t be 😀

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[…] Do you hate duration running? If you are willing to work extremely hard for short bursts of time, you won’t have to bother […]

J
J
6 years 7 months ago

Take it from an actual athlete – this advice is a bunch of pap. Unbelievable. Try a runner’s forum for proper advice.

Mark Sisson
6 years 7 months ago

J, just curious. Who’s the actual athlete?

J
J
6 years 7 months ago
Myself. Pick any real athlete, olympians or the highest competitive equivalent of any sport, especially endurance, and look at their training. Are you trying to tell me that someone like Dean Karnazes, who runs hundreds of miles non-stop and is in absolute prime health, could have achieved the same by, as you submit, essentially being lazy? The body will adapt to its circumstances so long as it is done properly and is given adequate fuel and rest. If that circumstance is running one-hundred miles, it cannot be achieved by sprint training and pushups. Believing any of the above would serve… Read more »
Mark Sisson
6 years 7 months ago
J, OK, so you’re the athlete. What sport, what times, etc so I can respond a bit better? There’s a point I’ll make (or not) based on your response. Meanwhile, we aren’t discussing elite athletes in specific sports here. As I have said here many times (and in my book) if you want to compete at an elite level, you absolutely need to train specifically – at the risk of losing fitness and health in other areas. But for overall fitness and the ability to participate in any activity across a broad range of physical requirements, Primal Blueprint fitness provides… Read more »
J
J
6 years 7 months ago
I wouldn’t say that my times in particular would change the fundament of the argument, but as concisely as can be stated– My sports are predominantly cycling (distance and TT) and running (distance and sprint), sometimes duathlon. I have never broken the ten-second barrier on a 100m track sprint, nor have I ever run faster than a five-minute-mile distance. So I am not purporting to be in the ultra-elite at any scale running, but I will always finish in the top 3% cycling. Cycling TT I can do 20k @ 24m, or a consistent 25-26mph ride all day. I suppose… Read more »
Frank
Frank
6 years 7 months ago

Mark, you need to check out the BLUE ZONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and write up about it. these ppl eat beans, corn, grains, tofu…..and live 100 yrs!!!!!!!!!

John S
John S
6 years 7 months ago

We have enough people already living for 100 or more years that look, feel and live like crap for the last 40-50 years of their lives. Longevity is a terrible goal if your average condition is misery.

Jay Jack
6 years 7 months ago
I got into ultramarathon training AFTER getting into the paleo/primal idea. Started in more “power” sports. Judo, BJJ, MMA (prof. for about a decade), and all the O/Power lifting and sprinting that goes with it. Started Crossfit years ago. Then, read the PB. Then, read about persistence hunting. Then read about ultras. I feel like I’m keeping the principles as I get ready for my first one. I do BJJ daily (although it’s not intense as I roll mostly with my students). I lift heavy a lot. I do some HIIT (think Crossfit). And ONE day a week I do… Read more »
erik.cisler
erik.cisler
6 years 7 months ago

Your mode of hiking sounds exactly like how our ancestors would have persistence hunted. Lots of stalking, stopping, pace changes, and taking advantage of the terrain when applicable. It’s how I hike, too – random, fractal, with varying speeds and intensities – and it’s definitely primal.

John S
John S
6 years 7 months ago
Persistence hunting is a theorized model meant to explain meat acquisition among early hominids prior to the invention of projectile weaponry. It has a fairly rationale basis and helps in part to explain some of our physiological adaptations. On the other hand, even our primitive cousin the Chimpanzee uses effective group hunting tactics based on surrounding and flushing prey (a method used by *many* social predators that are slower than their prey). It certainly would be the case that certain groups practiced persistence hunting when necessary, or did so culturally as a learned method, but it is not *necessary* for… Read more »
erik.cisler
erik.cisler
6 years 7 months ago

Oh, absolutely. Hence heavy lifting, sprints, explosive power training, and moving slowly.

We’re smart, clever beasts, and we only run ourselves ragged if it’s absolutely necessary. It’d never be our first choice.

You’d enjoy this spear hunting video: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2010/01/neanderthin-and-primal-hunting-video.html

John S
John S
6 years 7 months ago

That was awesome natural stand hunting and absolutely perfect spear placement…the very definition of primal. I have seen on video (which I can’t find anymore) a successful ground based spear hunt of wild boar. Thanks for the link.

Steve D
Steve D
6 years 7 months ago

I have to disagree with this advice Mark.

To succeed at a physical test, what you should do is train exactly like the test. The body adopts to the stresses put on it.

Your advice is good for the general athlete but I would say in the context of preparing for a fitness test, the best advice for this person would be to train the test. So this means doing the exercises that the test comprises now so that you can pass it in the future.

Thanks as always for your site !

Mark Sisson
6 years 7 months ago

Steve D, if he were aiming to break 9 or 10 minutes for 2 miles I might agree with you. But 16 minutes for a deuce isn’t really a running test; it’s just one small endurance aspect of an overall fitness test. I could argue that specific training to race a two mile “fast” would interfere with all his other aspects of fitness.

Steve D
Steve D
6 years 7 months ago
I suppose in the context of viewing the running test as more a level of general fitness because of the relatively easy pace your advice to the writer would hold. A two mile run a few times a week I don’t view as chronic cardio though. In general, I still hold training for the test is always better. I think my post is more motivated by something that I want the primal lifestyle movement to avoid. It is something you have talked about before … I don’t want people discounting a more primal approach to diet and exercise because we… Read more »
Kristina
Kristina
6 years 7 months ago
Much ado about a simple, 2 mile test, sheesh. The guy isn’t training for the Olympics, he just wants to be able to run 2 miles in under 16 minutes. He could check out a runner’s forum, but what do you think they’ll spout there? Lots and lots of running, of course. The fastest 10k I ran (while in Junior College) was after no consistent long-slow-event-length cardio, but after a season of soccer training w/ tons and tons of sprinting, and a strength training program at the gym which included leg press, deadlifts, pulldowns and the like. My longest run… Read more »
Ryan
Ryan
6 years 7 months ago

Why isn’t he interested with doing more than just ‘passing’ the test… There goes the common conception of the National Guard… Anyways, I’m in the Active Army Component and have been doing shorter distance runs and sprint routines with the very occasional longer (2-3 mile) run and have been doing the 2 mile test in the 13:45 range consistently without much other work. Most of my time is spent weight training with the occasional ‘play’ day of cycling, swimming, mtn biking, trail run, etc.

Tom
Tom
6 years 7 months ago

I am just curious – what common conception of the National Guard are you refer’g too? I did not know there was one other than we have to meet all of the same requirements as our active duty counterparts; as well as train for a State Mission as well. Oh yeah, and we deploy as much as the AD..

George
6 years 7 months ago
Actually I LOVE to run. Although I agree with almost what you say on this blog and I also live the primal life style, I reject your writings about running. You only write in that respect about your self. Looking at your past running, yes, i can imagine that you hate running with that kind of Sowjet regime of running: linear, always the same, no fun, no joy. For me it´s a way to be in nature, to have contact with nature, especially thru my feet because I am a barefoot runner and I run naturally in fractals= variations ALL… Read more »
Mark Sisson
6 years 7 months ago
George, I’m not sure where you get that I hate running. The above headline was taken from the reader’s question. I don’t hate running. I actually love running and do so two or three times a week (in the form of two hours of Ultimate or beach sprints or a short trail run (always barefoot or in VFFs). I just don’t run to train – I train to run. What I rail against is the idea of running long and hard most days as a primary means of training. I rail against all forms of “chronic cardio” (cycling, swimming, etc)… Read more »
Jay Jack
6 years 7 months ago
“I just don’t run to train – I train to run.” – That was awesome. I am approaching prepping for my first Ultra in that manner. I am following a theory I’ve read called “low mileage” training protocol. They seem to advocate a lot of cross training and one LONG “run” on the weekends. Bear in mind that’s “ultra” style running, which is basically speed hiking as I translate it. Crossfit Endurance is even more on the line of PB. They advocate short intervals and “2 a days” and do virtually no long runs. Anyway, I loved the way you… Read more »
George
6 years 7 months ago

Ok, fair enough, thanks for the expalnation!

jwint
jwint
6 years 7 months ago
I think all the advice about doing this or that to avoid the drudgery of running makes some sense. The best way to prepare for a PT Test however, is to simply take one every weekend and track your scores. Weights, sprints, jump rope, treadmill, intervals . . . there are a million things you can do. Even kettlebells will help your aerobic capacity. But the 2-mile run carries its own unique challenge! If it’s down and back (i.e., a mile one way and another back) you have the challenge of seeing people spread out and run far ahead .… Read more »
darc
darc
6 years 7 months ago

Jwint,
Mark said, “…once every few weeks, test yourself in that two-mile to measure your progress”…so I think he covered your “…take one every weekend and track your scores” comment.

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[…] been reading up on the advantages of tabata and interval training over at Mark’s Daily Apple, one of my favorite reference websites for health and wellness […]

Adam
Adam
6 years 6 months ago
Hey all, I’m a cadet in Army ROTC and I can tell you first hand that training PB-style will definitely carry over into other things, like the 2 mile. The 2 mile has always been my weakest event, and I always hated it because it was so hard for me. I’ve got about 6% body fat and am decently muscled (6’0″ 165 lbs.), so people always wondered why I couldn’t run. I thought its because I didn’t put in enough long runs, until I started reading MDA. My best time in the 2 mile was 14:56, but that was over… Read more »
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[…] yesterday after a respectable finish (23/221) in my hometown‘s race.  Here’s a great post by a man who figured out the intensity vs duration debate a long time […]

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[…] or biking or (my favorite) water aerobic sprints. “But I hate running!” No problem. This post is for […]

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