Short or Long run for health?: If you ignore all... - Couch to 5K

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Short or Long run for health?


If you ignore all the park runs, PB's and races, what is better for you health and fitness wise... A fast 5k for 30 mins or so, or that long slow run for an hour+ or perhaps some intervals ?

I have been doing all these types of runs and in each case my respiration and heart rate has been up, so that must be good.

My primary reason for running is health and fitness...but I've always wondered whether one type of running is better for you than another.

Yes, I'm also guilty for trying (not very well) to reduce my 5 or 10k times, but my longish slow run of 12k yesterday gave me the time to start thinking about this.

Happy fast or slow running :-)

PS..New shoes great so far.

9 Replies

I would think short and fast. Dunno for sure as I'm no doctor, but my instinct tells me that short and fast would be better for your health

If you mix it up then you cover all the bases

I have been thinking about this a bit too. After my HM in 3 weeks, I would like to keep up with some of the distance training but probably only once a month. So for me may be a monthly 14 or 17km. I would like to to speed work and hills and then my favourite distance is 7km. So I think I will just shake it all up a bit and then hopefully like misswobble says cover all bases.


It probably depends on what aspect of your health you want to improve. For mood boosting I like long runs at an easy pace in the sunshine! Good for your mental health. Also longer runs at lower intensity are good for building aerobic capacity. But I've also read that higher intensity bursts such as interval training are supposed to stimulate growth hormones and lead to stronger muscles. I try to do a mix each week - a longer run of about an hour or just over, a steady 35-40 mins run and a shorter interval session of about 25 mins. It helps keep things interesting as well!


With a HM in 2 weeks I am thinking the same... I enjoy the long runs, but I don't want to become addicted and then need longer and longer runs to get that feel-good factor, and this is because I don't like the idea of being addicted to anything, even something as good as running.

There is also the old adagio - all things in moderation, which the more I grow up the more I find it true

Interesting and controversial point of view here:

ancientrunnerGraduate in reply to Pigivi

That was very interesting. Read something similar in the papers a while back but was much more convincing hearing it from a Cardiologist. Makes me feel better that I've never made wonderful progress with my running - just about keep in the benefits range. I kept wondering if he was going to lie down on that couch!!

AndyDGraduate in reply to Pigivi

That was a very interesting video... well worth watching. Everything in moderation appears to be the message... if you are doing several marathons or ultras each week then you probably doing yourself more damage than good.

I think most runners on this site are doing a variety of runs, maybe 3 or 4 times a week and varying paces... this seems to produce the best health benefits. Pat on the back for us all :-)


Whichever gets you out the door?

I think there's a real argument for noticing what your body likes too - some people seem to revel in short fast runs, others feel better with long slow distance.


The very best training plan (whether it be for overall fitness or some other reason) - is the one that you keep on doing!!! The one that doesn't lead to injury, the one that you enjoy doing, the one that you find interesting/challenging/( fill in here whatever else you want) :)

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