August 9, 2013
Run, Run, as Fast as You Can
Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm awesome. Hopefully that is what you are thinking while running. Running, walking, and jogging are all great forms of cardio. You don't need any equipment and all you have to do is go outside and start to move.
If you are running for cardio, how fast should you be running? We recommend that you keep your heart rate between 65% and 85% of your maximum. While this is a great recommendation, this is a large range. Exercising at 65% of your max feels much different than pushing it to 85%. Pushing yourself harder than that leads to failure, as that level of intensity pushes you over your lactate threshold and restricts you from longer durations. In a nutshell, the faster you move the more sugar you burn and the more metabolites (waste products) you produce. When you produce metabolites faster than your body can clear them you have reached your lactate threshold.
Imagine this: when you are walking you feel that you could go forever. If you pick up the intensity to a slow jog you immediately feel more challenged but know you can maintain that intensity for a very long time. Pick it up to a run and you feel even more challenged. As you keep increasing your speed you reach a point when you think, "wow, I cannot do this forever." That feeling is typically accompanied by a burning sensation in your muscles. That is when you have reached your lactate threshold.
When running for cardio, try to keep a pace that is just below your lactate threshold. That way you can burn the most amount of calories without having to stop due to muscle failure. And not just for running, but anytime you are doing cardio try pushing yourself close to your lactate threshold. If you feel you are pushing to hard and you cannot maintain your pace, then slow down.
Weight loss is about calories. When you are exercising, burn as many as you can. your lactate threshold may not be at 85% of your max heart rate. It may be at 80% or 75%. The number does not matter as much as you feel. When running with this in mind, use the RPE scale, or the "rating of perceived exertion." On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being sleeping and 10 being sprinting uphill in the snow with a sasquatch chasing you, push yourself to a level 7 or 7.5. At that level you will be around your threshold.