HIITS workouts, a good idea or a gimmick?

Hi all, I'm still feeling a bit bereft since completing the c25k programme & although I'm now trying to consolidate it & get my 30 min runs a bit more consistently comfortable (rather than sometimes still a bit hard & sometimes a real slog), I know myself well enough to know that I need someone in my ear motivating & prompting me. I will look again at 10k training apps but in the meantime, a friend has suggested I do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to build on my stamina & speed.

What do you think? Do you lovely boys & girls do these or anything like this? I'm a bit put off by the sound of them to be honest as this is the first time in my life I've been able to run & I'm only here because I've been taking it at a slow & steady pace! It sort of feels counter-productive to then try short bursts of sprinting!

21 Replies

oldest • newest
  • It is good for you - but also a good way of hurting yourself!!! Consolidate your 30 minute runs - maybe increase their pace a little bit or add some faster bits between light poles . Slowly increase the time of one of your weekly runs until you get to 1 hour? etc, etc - but don't rush anything or push yourself too hard.

  • Thank you. That sounds much more sensible lol. I think I'm naturally increasing the pace slightly which, ironically is why I'm still finding the 30 minuters hard in places, but I'm determined to get to a consistent 10kph/6mpk eventually. No rush on that though. Just being able to do my 30 minute runs without feeling like I'm forcing myself into a rhythm for the first 5 minutes would be great!

  • I'm with you there, I graduated a few weeks ago but 30 mins of running at my slow pace is still a struggle for me. However I'm trying to increase one run v slightly each week and using Laura's podcast stepping stones to slightly increase my speed just once per week. Good luck!

  • As Bazza1234 says.. maybe a step too far, just yet.. maybe, if you are consolidating those runs, but feeling lonely without Laura in your ear.. then take a peek at the C25K+ podcasts..?

    You can take then slowly.. try Stepping Stones first and see how you go? You can always walk bits or run as you feel you need to :)


  • Oo I didn't know there were c25k+ podcasts! I used the app rather than the podcasts so if my phone can cope with it then I'll definitely give those a try. Thanks!

  • There is another option with Hiit, you could find one that does the Stregnth work, i.e. Your squats, push-ups and sit ups. Rather than a running one. You could even cross train with an exercise bike if you have access to one. This would give you an exercise on your non running days to build muscle that will help your running.

    I have used the 7min a day apps for that purpose before and they were a killer, I had a real problem keeping up with the app as I got me out of puff really fast.

  • Aha, yes that kind of answers my other post too, thanks! 😀

  • Same response as your other post, maybe try this


  • Just go easy! I would keep running slowly, building up the distance no more than 10% a week. No need for heroics or pushing. Too much too soon on legs that are not ready is a recipe for disaster

    Cross training on non-run days is fine but i would keep it as low impact as poss if you are new to this stuff. Swim, cycle, dance, do some fitness but you don't need to go for the burn

    You can do intervals while you are running. Just speed up a bit between lamp posts, bins or trees, etc

    The C25k+ Steppings Stones podcasts are interval training but in a safe environment with the lovely Laura. They kick ass though! They bring your running on and help get you fit.

    Take care

  • Just downloading the podcasts now, thank you! And yes will try to fit in some other bits as really want to keep active. Thanks again!

  • I run the SS podcasts a lot. I left them on my mp3 player and they pop up on shuffle regularly. The STamina one is fab but tough. Music is weird but you get used to it. They are very good though. Well worth doing

    There is some very slow running on one of them but that's all about leg building. Slow running builds running legs, so stay with it

  • That'll be why I've noticed such changes in my legs already then, because I'm a slow runner!

  • I don't think HIIT is gimmicky, I think the science behind it is sound. REALLY hard work in short, intense bouts with plenty of recovery in between is good.

    But like others have said, I also think they require a very solid base. After only 3 years of running I'm not convinced that my base is solid enough for that, so I stick to "normal" intervals once a week.

  • HIIT training does work and will make you faster, but like everyone else has said, do be careful! The first time I did a sprint session I thought I might die or vomit (I did neither) but it can be quite a shock. You could try something in-between and make up your own interval run (google 'Fartlek'. I'm serious, its an actual thing..). Or check out the app 'Zombies, Run!' (I've heard good things about it but never tried it myself). Everything in moderation.

  • I get the feeling that the early weeks of C25K, where you run then have longer walking gaps, and it's really hard the first few times because you're not used to it, work in much the same way as HIIT. I think it's not the case that the "High Intensity" bits are sprinting, but just that you are working yourself much harder than normally, getting your heart to beat faster, and so on. I noticed from Strava that my week 1 peak pace rates were quite a bit higher than they are in the longer runs.

    I could of course be completely wrong about this - I certainly wasn't going "flat out" in the running bits in Week 1 - but if I had, I probably wouldn't have completed it! But it's certainly an alternation of hard work/relax. By about the third week I noticed it took a much shorter time to recover one's breath than at the start.

  • You're spot on, Ian.

    As much as the body adapts to eventually allowing the C25K programme to be completed, the same thing occurs when introducing HIIT - the body simply adapts, as it becomes more efficient at processing glucose and fat as energy, in the absence of a steady supply of oxygen during intense periods of activity.

    Furthermore, since the running intervals in the first week of the C25K no doubt pushed HR above 80% of its max, you'll have been performing HIIT, leading the body to respire anaerobically, hopefully explaining why many find the first week so difficult.

    However, through adaptation, exercising HR quickly decreases to a level where the body begins to exercise aerobically, thus, allowing a far greater concentration of oxygen to be used in fuelling exercising muscles, leading to a measured increase in stamina/running fitness, eventually resulting in the ability to run for 30 minutes and beyond.

    Once a sound base is developed (running consistently for 30 minutes, 3 times per week), that's when speed and HIIT sessions can be introduced, improving the ability to run faster and further for longer when exercising HR remains below 80-85% of its maximum.

  • I certainly agree with Tomas in suggesting that HIIT isn't a gimmick, since there's much scientific evidence to support its inclusion.

    Whilst it shouldn't really be undertaken more than twice per week and performed for no longer than 20-25 minutes, due to its effect upon the body, I've listed a few benefits of seeking to include it:

    Increased ATP density (power) within the muscles;

    Improved mitochondrial activity within the heart;

    Improved ability to handle rising levels of lactate within the blood (leading to reduced fatigue/improved stamina);

    A hugely increased rate of sensitivity to insulin;

    Greater utilisation of existing body fat as energy during the activity and continued calorie expenditure afterwards, as a result of EPOC (after burn effect);

    A lowered HR when exercising aerobically;

    Upon beginning to introduce HIIT, continue to work within current capabilities, using the RPE scale (rate of perceived exertion), as your guide.

    To provide the joints with a restful break, if you have a gym membership, in the initial interim, consider performing HIIT upon equipment such as the treadmill, spinning bike, StairMaster or recumbent bike. Once accustomed, HIIT can be performed outdoors, in the form of sprint recoveries.

    Referring to the RPE scale, if it's considered that cycling at level 7 on the recumbent bike places exertion at 9-10 on the scale (very hard/maximum effort), for example, it's simply a measure of current anaerobic fitness, something that'll improve the more frequently HIIT is performed.

    For example, when undertaking HIIT, I currently perform repeated hard intervals of 30s at level 17 (followed by 30s recovery) on the StairMaster in my gym. However, that's purely due to my current level of anaerobic fitness.

    Simply begin with hard intervals of up to 30 seconds, followed by recoveries (on level 1) for 30-60s, repeating for as long as the body is able, whilst ensuring that the session doesn't last longer than 25 minutes. Continuing beyond begins to have a catabolic effect upon existing muscle mass.

    Although a first HIIT session may last no longer than 10 minutes, it'll prove to be more beneficial than initially realised.

    As the body adapts, gradually reduce the recoveries towards 30s or even increase the intensity of the hard intervals, to ensure progression.

  • I joined the gym at work and will try this on my lunch break. Should I do hiit for example on tue and thu and jogging on mon and wed, then rest day on fri and jog again sat and rest sunday? Or should I have a rest day between each of the days I do exercise? I completed the c25k in June so am still a beginner.

  • I am also struggling post C25K. This is the first week after completion mind you but I tried the stepping stones podcast on Tuesday and really enjoyed it (I think?!). Tried the speed one tonight and it was my worst run yet! I did it but my legs feel like lead and so painful. I have managed 5.3k in 36 mins so I can do it but I was so disappointed with myself and not sure whether to persevere with the podcasts or just do my own thing. Maybe it's just a blip? Feeling a bit like I need to take a backward step and build it up again to get confidence back . Please say it's not just me?!

  • Not just you!

  • Hi i am feeling a little bit similar. I manage a jog once or twice a week and to progress properly, I need to do it three times a week minimum. I guess it is easy to gain quickly at the beginning when you start from 0. Like when losing weight when there is a lot to lose it drops off quickly at the beginning but the last one or two kilos just won't.

    I graduated in June and am now taking it easy and jogging for pleasure and not pushing. It is gettig easier. Occasionally I add a bit or run faster just to add variation. I don't like rules but with rules comes discipline and routine which is good for progress in this case. I think I am not for running longer distances, really. Anyway, I am mentally on holiday! Maybe you are too...

You may also like...