The best alternative to running

This week I want to discuss some of the interesting questions that have come over the past few months.

These aren’t questions that have been necessarily been submitted, just some things that we have come across and looked to address with clients.

The first one is finding an alternative to running that also requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.

For people who are travelling a lot or unable to get consistent access to training facilities, running is a great way to keep fit.

But not everyone is at the point where running is the best training option.

Running is load intensive, with every step putting a force multiple through the limbs and joints of the lower body.

The technique also tends to deteriorate when fatigued, which can be quite quickly when coming from a low training base.

This means it’s not always the best activity at the start of a weight loss journey or if there are any existing injuries, particularly around the ankle and knee.

Unsurprisingly, walking is the best way to increase running capacity without actually running, particularly when looking for an option that is very similar in terms of equipment and accessibility.

The walking tempo can be progressively increased to a light jog, or a walk-run hybrid can be used to accumulate more running minutes as we look to transition to running.

A great way to progress to a 5km run is to begin by walking the distance, then progressively adding some running intervals during the walk.

Keep track of the total distance ran and then aim to progressively increase it.

You will soon find that you are able to run the first 2km, walk 1km, run 1km and then walk-run the remained.

Your fitness and running capacity will increase fasting than you expect - a 5km run without stopping is realistic within eight weeks of 3-4 sessions per week.

If the goal is more burning calories than running a certain distance, hill walking can be a great addition to training.

Many people do the same hill walk repeatedly, maybe it’s near their house or on the way to work, yet the feel it never becomes any easier.

That’s because if you approach the same hill at the same pace, the adaptations will be slow.

A much better way to train for hills is to vary the distance and speed.

For example: instead of only doing a 1.5km walk that includes a certain amount of incline, do repeated intervals at one particular part of the incline.

You can vary the pace, rest and total distance covered, which makes this a great way to turn a walk into an interval training session that will increase your incline capacity.

Many of my clients have done interval treadmill work in the gym and will be familiar with the idea of increasing either the incline or speed every couple of minutes, to keep things challenging.

This is a great way to increase cardiovascular fitness in a relatively short period of time, allowing users to still complete plenty of resistance training work in the session.

Tom Fitzgerald