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Improve Running Economy

Want to improve your client’s running time in less than 30 minutes? Try this new 10-20-30 concept proposed by researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s department of exercise and sports sciences.

The method, described in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2012; 113 [1], 16–24), employs interval-style training that the creators believe improves running economy. To test the protocol, researchers had eight exercisers run at very low speed for 30 seconds, at moderate speed for 20 seconds and at high speed for 10 seconds (VO2max = <30%, <60% and >90%, respectively). Subjects repeated this pattern for a 5-minute interval before resting for 2 minutes; they performed three or four intervals in a session, depending on ability, and did no other type of training for the duration of the 7-week study. Eight control subjects maintained their usual training regimens during that time. All participants completed a 1,500-meter run and a 5-kilometer run pre- and post-intervention.

So how did the runners fare?

“After the intervention period, VO2max in 10-20-30 was 4% higher, and performance in 1,500-m and 5-k run improved by 21 and 48 seconds, respectively,” the authors noted. “In 10-20-30, systolic blood pressure was reduced by 5 ± 2 mmHg, and total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were lowered by 0.5 ± 0.2 and 0.4 ± 0.1 mmol/l, respectively.” Those in the 10-20-30 group also reduced their total training time by 54%.

No changes were reported among the control group.

“The present study shows that interval training with short 10-second near-maximal bouts can improve performance and VO2max despite a ~50% reduction in training volume,” the authors stated.

They also suggested that this type of training could improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Note: The study’s sample size was small.

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