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You Asked: Long Slow Run vs. Faster Short Run

Dear Fit,
I really enjoy jogging long, slow-paced runs that last for about an hour, but many days I don't have time for that. So I do shorter runs, about 30 minutes, at a faster pace. I'm wondering which is better for you, calorie- and health-wise?
—Running Gal

This is a great question since so many FitSugar readers like to run. To find out what I think


Let's first compare how many calories you burn for each type of run. These calculations are based on a 130-pound woman.

Short, faster run:
30-minute run, at a pace of 7 minutes per mile: 413 calories burned
30-minute run, at a pace of 8 minutes per mile: 350 calories burned
30-minute run, at a pace of 9 minutes per mile: 324 calories burned
Long, slower run:
60-minute run, at a pace of 10 minutes per mile: 584 calories burned
60-minute run, at a pace of 11 minutes per mile: 500 calories burned
60-minute run, at a pace of 12 minutes per mile: 472 calories burned

I'm not sure how fast your short run is, but if you're sprinting at pace of 7 minutes per mile, the amount of calories you burn is close to the amount you'd burn if you were jogging slowly at a 12-minute-per-mile pace. So in that case, if you're concerned with how many calories you're burning, it all depends on how much time you have to work out that day. On the other hand, if there isn't a huge difference between your speeds (say you run 30 minutes at a pace of 9 minutes per mile, but run 60 minutes slightly slower at 10 minutes per mile) then it pays to run longer, since you'll burn way more calories. So if you're trying to lose weight, the longer runs may be the better choice.

That's not to say that calories burned is the only thing to consider. The bottom line here is that both types of workouts are important. Moving at a slow, consistent pace for almost an hour can calm your mind, burn tons of calories, and build endurance if you're training for a race. On the other hand, doing short runs at a fast pace is great for your lungs, heart, and metabolism. It will also increase speed and strengthen muscles. So if you're serious about running, I'd try to include both types in your routine, but do what you can in regards to your schedule. A 30-minute run is a great workout, so maybe most of your runs can be 30 minutes. Then once or twice a week, reward yourself with an easygoing, hour-long run.


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