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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.


Join The Conversation
jhanson1218 jhanson1218 5 years
Hey - I am a 36 year old man that weighs about 170. For years I would run 6 miles over lunch at about a 6:40 pace (somewhere around 40 minutes). I would then go back in after work and lift weights though it just seemed like to much of an obession to be in the gym. My trainer made a good point and said that shorter distance at a higher intensity is much better. He used the example of a sprinter vs a long distance runner. The sprinter is generally cut-up and defined where the long distance runners are often gaunt and frail. I have recently switched my runs to a 5k (3.1 miles) and I run it around 18:30 at full intensity. This also gives me the time to lift after I run and I can do it all at lunch. I feel that my body fat is down due to the short intense runs followed immediatly by a 40 minute lift. Can anyone confirm or deny this? Thanks...
saifalisabri saifalisabri 8 years
there is no doubt that fast running is much much better than slow. It saving the time, number of benefits. 1.pumping the lungs. 2.It open the blockage into blood 3. helping to releasing the stone from kidney. 4. Its decline the Cholesterol level.
EastVillageAmy EastVillageAmy 8 years
Also keep in mind your weight for calorie burns. I run with the nike+ thing and it gives me a calorie read out based on my weight, pace and length of run. My pace doesn't really vary from run to run, basically marathon training was my intro to running so I didn't worry about my speed so much as being able to do the distance. Now that it's over, I'm just in the mindset to run on a regular basis even if I can only squeeze in 20 minutes - which I used to think wasn't even worth put on my sneakers for and I figure I will gradually get faster shaving a few seconds at a time. During the week I will usually do a 3 or 4 and then try to aim for at least a 5 or 6 on the weekends. I'd like to build up my mileage again, running double digit miles is so therapeutic and makes me feel like a total badass too.
trackstar trackstar 8 years
i meant the*same minute miles..
trackstar trackstar 8 years
I think slow runs don't really do the trick for me as far as weight loss. If you've been running for a while and tend to run around the minute miles, it's best to do a fartlek (run 2min 'fast', run 1 min 'slow') changing up the time of the fast interval and keeping the slow interval at 1 min. You will will improve not only your endurance but also lose weight. Also, spinning is important to give your body a running break :)
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
I wish it was safe to go jogging outside around here but it really isn't! I jog on the treadmill and it gets sooooo boring. My earphones fall out so I can't even watch tv! Humph.
almostloli almostloli 8 years
interval trainings will do :D i love running tips from fit!
cotedazur cotedazur 8 years
The best way to lose weight is to run VERY slowly (you could even start with a brisk walk if you're out of shape) before you eat in the morning. I do this as often as I can, usually about 3 times a week. I don't consider it my daily run or part of my training; it's solely for weight loss. It works like a charm, and has the additional benefit of making your body accustomed to attacking stored fat right away when you exercise. Just make sure you go really slowly, and always carry an energy bar or something in your pocket so you don't get hypoglycemic.
Joe-Hrdlicka Joe-Hrdlicka 8 years
I think that mixing both long distance running with some "interval" training runs will ultimately help you lose more calories. If you want to continue to burn calories, you must vary your activities to a point where you "keep your body guessing". That will help you lose weight!
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
Interesting. I jog for 30 minutes. I simply go by how my body feels. Some days, I run fast and hard. Other days, I may take it slow. As long as I put in my 30 minutes, I'm okay with it.
Long runs (13 - 15 miles) are my therapy. I can't live without them.
miss-malone miss-malone 8 years
Depending on how much time I have, I'll mix it up sometimes.
runningesq runningesq 8 years
The answer is both. Mix it up! When I'm marathon training, I do one long run/ week (over 10-12 mi), 3-4 shorter runs, and 1 day of speedwork.
syako syako 8 years
"Moving at a slow, consistent pace for almost an hour can calm your mind" This is so incredibly true. I don't know what it is, but when my runs go for more than 4 miles, my mind just gets so cleared. :)
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