To Jog Or To Walk (Between Interval Repeats), That Is The Question

+ Careful with those post-marathon recovery walks

To Jog Or To Walk (Between Interval Repeats), That Is The Question 1

Here’s the free but abridged version of the Run Long, Run Healthy newsletter. See the links below to subscribe to the full-text edition with more articles and deeper, more specific running advice. – Amby

To Jog Or To Walk (Between Interval Repeats), That Is The Question

To Jog Or To Walk (Between Interval Repeats), That Is The Question 2

Interval training is the most studied and proven method to boost fitness by increasing your Vo2 max. But one question has been debated through the ages.

Should you jog between intervals (or, more accurately, between the hard repeats)? Or should you walk slowly or even just stand in place until your next repeat? These are generally termed “active” vs. “passive” recovery methods.

It’s tempting to quickly deduce that jogging between repeats should be superior since it raises the overall intensity a smidgeon or two. On the other hand, a more passive recovery could allow you to run more or faster intervals, which is the point of the workout. So, the question doesn’t resolve readily.

That’s why a recent systematic review and meta-analysis set out to find an answer. The authors located 13 relevant studies that used passive recoveries and 11 with active recoveries. Then, they compared and contrasted the results of these 24 total studies.

Conclusion: “The applied recovery type (active or passive) during interval training seems not to affect the training-induced outcomes.” To put it simply, they found both methods roughly equivalent “in trained and untrained adults.”

This implies that, when doing interval training, you should concentrate on the length and pace of your repeats and less so on the recovery method you use between repeats. More at Sports Medicine Open with free full text.

RELATED ARTICLE: Marathon Interval Training: How To Add It To Your Marathon Prep

Careful About Those Post-Marathon Recovery Walks

To Jog Or To Walk (Between Interval Repeats), That Is The Question 3

You’re probably not planning to do much running in the days after your next marathon, and that’s a good thing. Better to give your body the full recovery it needs.

Instead, maybe you’re planning a leisurely saunter around Boston, London, Duluth, or wherever you’ll be. On a modest walk, you can visit a few local tourist highlights everyone wants to see.

However, a new study indicates that even a simple stroll could increase your risk of post-marathon injury. The explanation is simple and commonsensical.

The marathon beats up your body, especially the quadriceps muscles. As a result, they don’t function normally for the next several days. Call this “neuromuscular fatigue.”

That’s not just a fancy name for “tired.” It means that you actually move differently, with “a significant decrease in peak knee flexion and an increase in peak hip internal rotation.”

Result: You have a greater chance of “developing patellofemoral PFPS pain,” i.e., a knee injury. So, if you’re feeling the need for some post-marathon activity, it might be smart to substitute swimming or stationary bicycling for several days. Those have long been the preferred post-marathon-recovery exercises of experienced runners. More at J of Sports Sciences.

RELATED ARTICLE: Post Marathon Recovery: 13 Expert Tips For A Fast Recuperation

Strange But True: You Run As You Think

To Jog Or To Walk (Between Interval Repeats), That Is The Question 4

Here’s one of those “didn’t see that one coming” reports that I enjoy so much. It explores “the intriguing interplay between personality traits of individuals and their preferred movement patterns.” Okay, I’m hooked.

The paper is based on a branch of brain research called “embodied cognition.” This is defined as “a compelling theoretical framework in cognitive science that challenges conventional notions that divorce the mind from the body.”

When it comes to running, this means that your biomechanics aren’t simply a matter of how your legs and feet move over the ground. They’re also partially based on your “thinking-feeling.”

Researchers in this field use tools like the well-known Myers-Briggs questionnaire. The MB characterizes people along four different dichotomies: extraversion-introversion, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving.

It has been shown, for example, that extroverted individuals tend to develop an “ideally aligned” posture with a relatively flat back, while introverts develop rounded shoulders and lower back. In effect, they’re trying to shrink their bodies to be less noticed by others.

In this study, running researchers examined the MB test results and biomechanics of 80 runners. They found distinct running-form differences between “sensing” runners and “intuition” runners. Sensing individuals are those who pay attention to physical realities and prefer practical and specific facts. Intuition individuals prefer abstract concepts and theories rather than the practical.

The sensing runners adopted “a more earthbound running form.” They had a longer contact time and a shuffling stride. They tended to describe their running form as: “I run very close to the ground to save as much energy as possible.”

Conversely, intuition runners “demonstrated a more dynamic and elastic running form.” They had a short contact time and bounced upward. They tended to describe their running form as: “I spend energy to fight against gravity because I can use my leg springs to recover energy from each step.”

The study protocol did not include a measure of actual running economy to see which personality-driven system worked more efficiently. Also, the researchers sounded disappointed that they uncovered only this sensing-intuition difference among runners from the four Myers Briggs types. The other three produced no significant differences in running form.

Conclusion: “This exploratory study offers compelling evidence that personality traits, specifically sensing and intuition, are associated with distinct running biomechanics.” You run as you think. More at PLOS ONE with free full text.

RELATED ARTICLE: Running Economy: A Complete Guide To Becoming An Efficient Runner

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.” Why not give it a try? SUBSCRIBE HERE. 

  • Boost your Vo2 max for increased lifespan
  • Lose 10 pounds in 2 months–a cardiologist’s guide
  • How Clarence DeMar won 7 Boston Marathons
  • Camille Herron’s guide to healthy feet
  • The best therapies for knee pain. (And better are coming.)
  • Four steps to get rid of tight muscles
  • Not interested in TikTok? No worries. Try RunTok instead
  • How loneliness leads to a shorter life (Hint: There’s an exercise connection)

DON’T FORGET: I spend HOURS searching the Internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles, so you can review them in MINUTES.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. RLRH is taking next week off for the Boston Marathon. You’ll receive your next RLRH Newsletter on April 25. Amby

Photo of author
Amby Burfoot stands as a titan in the running world. Crowned the Boston Marathon champion in 1968, he became the first collegian to win this prestigious event and the first American to claim the title since John Kelley in 1957. As well as a stellar racing career, Amby channeled his passion for running into journalism. He joined Runner’s World magazine in 1978, rising to the position of Editor-in-Chief and then serving as its Editor-at-Large. As well as being the author of several books on running, he regularly contributes articles to the major publications, and curates his weekly Run Long, Run Healthy Newsletter.

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