Sunday, 17 June 2012

Running - the benefits of little and often

My feet and legs after yesterday's muddy run!
Rambling readers with good memories may recall I set myself a little challenge at Christmas time (click here) which involved running a little every day for a set period of time.  That was worthwhile and I benefited from those runs; I am doing it again now.  I think it is okay to do this but only for 2 or 3 weeks in order to maintain my overall well being, doing exactly the same every day might become a bit monotonous.

So a week ago I decided to do this again for a similar period.  It involves running for just 20 - 25 minutes each day.  Here are the main drivers: and why I recommend it:

  • Keeps your ankle and knee joints in good order
  • Raising the heart rate everyday keeps your arteries flowing nicely, maintaining the capacity of your heart to pump a good volume of blood around
  • A 20 minute run at a gentle pace burns around 150 - 200 calories and good for maintain a healthy steady weight
  • Each time you run, your bones are put under a little stress.  This in turn helps them stay strong by being constantly repaired and made stronger, thereby maintaining a good density.  Obviously this applies to the bones in your legs but also in your feet, hip and back to a certain extent.
  • Twenty minutes is fairly easy to squeeze into a daily routine
  • It prepares me well for longer runs - yesterday I did my 8.5 hilly run.  This is my best, most favourite run, I love it!  Strangely I found the first 20 minutes the hard part - after that it was a breeze. I had the fun of running along some muddy trails as you can see from the photo above
  • You'll find deep sleeping becomes easier, especially if you have things on your mind
  • Running over grass or uneven ground helps strengthen tendons, muscles and ligaments - especially around your feet and ankles
  • I never take any water with me on a 20 minute run, even on a hot day, so it's less to carry or faff around about.  A smoothie afterwards is ideal
  • Easier to incorporate some faster and more vigorous runs - do remember you need to warm up for a few minutes before increasing the pace.  I often look out for a landmark 100 - 200 metres ahead and sprint for it.  Wow that feels good and increases my heart rate tremendously for a brief period
  • You might even get a dose of the Runner's High after a 20 minute run.  Normally I need to go for longer and harder before I get much of a buzz but when I do that is just so amazing....
  • You will never doubt that you're a RUNNER
I'm going to enjoy doing this for a while but I'm still going to have at least one longer run each week - these are really special!


  1. Hi Doug,
    Having recently graduated from C25K and, feeling a bit of a slow poke at the Hairy Helmet relay, I thought I would try to improve my speed. I always avoid walking at all costs or I feel like a failure.
    Today I tried intervals for the first time and alternated 1 min fast running with 90s brisk walking and repeated that 8 times. In total I covered 3.52km in 23.5 mins (15 mins was walking) which is over a minute faster than I have done the same distance jogging all the way.
    This has confused me. I'm doing a parkrun on Saturday and now I'm not sure whether I should worry about walking some of it. I will get a better time if I stretch out my legs and run, allowing myself to walk when I need to.
    Today was the first time I enjoyed running when I stretched out my legs and just went for it.
    I wondered if you could offer some thoughts on this?

    1. Interval training is just as you describe - a fast blast followed by a more restful pace and then repeated a number of times. It will increase your heart and lung capacity which is a great way of increasing your overall fitness. When I do it, I am always at least 15 minutes into a run so I'm nicely warmed up. I latch onto a landmark ahead (a tree, a parted car etc) that is maybe 100 yards away and then I sprint just about as fast as I can go for it. Sometimes I force myself to go just a little bit further before I'm totally out of breath before easing back to a gentle jog to allow my heart beat and breathing to settle back to normal. I do this two or three times.

      For your parkrun, or for any race, just concentrate on running as interval training is reserved for training. Try and "select" a pace that you can reasonably maintain through the distance but only you will know what this is but I'm guessing you could do a mile in about 10 minutes? If so, that's a nice steady pace.

      The beauty of having a fast run, or one that includes a few intervals, is that the Runner's High is virtually guaranteed - have you experienced this yet?

      Does that help and MANY thanks for visiting again.