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Exercise 80% Less And Still Improve Your Endurance

Do you want to improve your endurance to juggle or run for longer periods? I know I do. Reviewing the my yearly stats show that I’ve been joggling a total of…

8 Days, 5 hours and 28 minutes

Well, today I read this bit of research from scientists at McMaster University where theyjuggling running sprinting showed one group of athletes got the same endurance benefit as another group who exercised 80% less.

Exercise less but harder

In the study they took 16 college-aged students, separated them into two groups and made them perform 6 training sessions over two weeks. One group followed a standard endurance training program which involved riding a stationary bike 90-120 minutes at a moderate intensity. The other group did four to six 30-second bursts of all out cycling separated by 4 minutes of recovery during each session.

Total exercise time in the 2 weeks study for the standard group was 10.5 hours. Total exercise time for the sprint group was 2.5 hours.

Result: Both groups showed similar improvements in exercise performance and muscle parameters associated with fatigue resistance.

Their conclusion was that short bursts of intense exercise can produce the same results as hours of endurance training.

On some level I knew this so in my joggling training I try to do sprints and other speed workouts. Unfortunately, sprinting hurts! It’s hard. Your legs burn, you get short of breath. You start to feel like your head is going to explode! But if you want to get fitter faster then this could be the way to go.

*Photo: Courtesy of Emory Kimbrough

This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. For the last year I’ve been following the FIRST training programs from the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific training, which are based on a similar premise: Run Less, Run Faster (which is also the title of a book they just published). The premise of the program is three intense runs a week — one interval training, one tempo, and one distance — for a total of only about 30 miles / 50 km per week. You also do two days a week of cross-training; I unicycle to work and back. The FIRST guys suggest that the rest between workouts is just as important as the workouts themselves; it actually pays to run less.

    FIRST has scientific study data similar to what McMaster showed, but taken over a much longer period (several complete marathon training cycles). The program has definitely worked for me — I’ve gone from a 3:51 marathon pace to a 3:44, and it looks like I’m on target for a 3:35 or better when I race in a couple of weeks.

    Everything you need to know about FIRST is here:
    http://www.furman.edu/FIRST/i

    And as an aside, I use a Garmin Forerunner 205 to help me stick to the workout plan and keep on pace; for their “FIRST to the finish” program I can’t imagine doing it without the Garmin.

  2. My ride to work is about 5.5 km each way (that’s about 3.4 miles). If I really push I can do it in about 22 minutes; normally it takes me between 25 and 30. I have a 29″ wheel, which helps a bit with the speed compared to a smaller yike. Picture here…
    http://phillips.rmc.ca/pictures/greg-uni.jpg
    … although I’d have a backpack on my back when commuting.

  3. Amazing really! You’re doing about a 7:20 or faster mile. People often ask if I would ride a unicycle while doing a triathlon. It seems to me that unicycling is just as tough on the legs as running. It’s not like you can coast as you can on a bike. What do you think about the comparison of running to unicycle and the amount of effort required?

  4. Well done, Perry – good to see that you are in shape for the Chicago Marathon. Hope you entertain the crowds and enjoy your day.

    This message comes to you, not from the usual place, but rather from another site I’ve recently set up.

    If I told you it was the story of how I started running, that would be entirely true. But it would only be a small part of the story.

    Meanwhile, as the fifth anniversary of my own Chicago run approaches, there’s temporarily no running for me – still recovering from a badly sprained leg – twisted by stumbling down a rabbit hole on a British Open golf course (the 3rd hole at Sandwich, to be precise) nearly four weeks ago.

    Well, if I will insist on playing dangerous sports …

    The funny thing was that I didn’t realise it at the time – the pain must have been alleviated by the euphoroa of draining a 40 footer for an unlikely par 3. But I’ve been crook ever since. Hoping to get back to it at the end of next week, however.

    Joggle on !

  5. “What do you think about the comparison of running to unicycle and the amount of effort required?”

    If your unicycle skills are pretty good, then I think that running requires significantly more effort than riding at a given pace. True, you can’t coast, but you’re not moving your centre of gravity up and down, either. And, since a unicycle has a very low effective gear ratio (basically, the ratio of the crank length to the wheel radius) there’s very little effort in turning the crank, so even at relatively high speed you’re not working that hard. The real problem is getting your pedals moving around fast enough without losing control. Maybe someday I’ll feel rich enough to spring for a geared unicycle:
    http://www.unicycle.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=996

    Riding a unicycle in a triathlon might be kind of fun, ‘though of course you’d expect to finish dead last behind all the bikers. The one thing I’d worry about would be saddle soreness on the long track.

    So, the Circus Triathlon: unicycle the bike course, joggle the running course — but what do we do for the swim course, ride a dolphin? 🙂

  6. I’ve been experimenting with “Swuggling”. That is juggling while swimming. I’ve found that if you can do the backstroke you can juggle upwards. It’s the same motion as when you lay on the ground and juggle up. You only propel yourself by kicking your feet but it is possible.

    I was thinking of an entire joggling triathlon. Juggle during the swim, the bike (two wheeled version) and the run.

  7. I’ve only just come across this thread so apologiesfor dusting it off so late.

    Before various ailments stopped me I was a three and half decade ride-to-work high intensity bike commuter. In my days at secondary school I was the division one middle distance for my school.

    I ride a uni to and from public transport five days a week. About four days I finish off with a 3.5km ride to work. And while I do need to cool down and shower afterwards I can say that the cardiovascular effort is nowhere near as great as for jogging or for regular riding of a bik. At least on a non-geared uni or a very large wheel job.

    Greg’s earlier post “If your unicycle skills are pretty good, then I think that running requires significantly more effort than riding at a given pace.” is pretty well on the money. However I will add that climbing anything over a gentle slope IS pretty demanding, even more so if going cross country on grass.

    Greg qualifies his comments with “if your skills are pretty good”. To ride a uni for transport is different than for tricks – the seat has to be higher and you really need to lightly load the pedals so the trailing leg doesn’t work against the other – otherwise you can waste energy much as you would doing isometiric exercise. (You will also wear out a new tyre every couple of hundred kilometres.)

    And no matter what size the wheel, you will never get as fast as a normal cyclist – which puts a practical limit how far you can commute – 15km will take a good 90 minutes or more if you are good and conditioned to it.

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