How to get more out of your running workouts with HIIT

So you’ve read the previous post on how to get the most of out your running in even a shorter amount of time and want to try it yourself.  You won’t just burn more calories with HIIT – you’ll also increase end up aiding your cardiovascular system and increasing your normal running pace.I recommend that you take it easy when adding this in to your workout/running routine; if you are new to running or just beginning to get into shape don’t overdue it!  While High Intensity Interval Training can give you the same workout (or even more of a workout!) in a shorter amount of time – it IS more intense.  You’ll find a lot of references to HIIT on the internet, but her is how I suggest that you do it.

I always recommend that you warm your body up first rather than jumping right into HIIT.  Depending upon the length of your run or workout, the length/duration of this warmup can vary.  What works best for me is to either tack HIIT onto the end of an easier or shorter run (e.g. when I’m helping someone get started and running orpacing along with them) or use it as my workout/run on days when I don’t have time to do one of my “favorite” runs.  For me, that warmup involves a pace run* for 1/2 to 1 mile just to get my body, legs, heart and lungs warmed up and ready for the “intense stuff”.    *More about pace runs in an upcoming post – a simple definition of a pace run is that it is the natural pace you fall into when running for a moderate distance or moderate amount of time.

After getting warmed up, you will move into the HIIT portion of your workout.  I recommend that you follow this general pattern for the next 1-2 miles (remember – take it easy and don’t overdo it when you first start HIIT** ):

  • 30 seconds running at 90-95% of your maximum ability followed by
  • 30-60 seconds of jogging  (easy pace – try to not just walk if possible)
    -At the start of your HIIT workout, keep these recovery portions shorter
    -As your HIIT workout progresses this recovery or slower portion will get longer since your body will need more time to be ready for the next High Intensity phase

7978552_sI recommend 5 to 10 cycles as describe above (depending on your fitness level) followed by a 2 minute jog to allow your heart, lungs and muscles to cool down.  This method will not only burn more calories than a pace run but will also benefit your  cardiovascular system and also will increase your normal running pace and increase your speed in shorter (~5K) races.

By the way – HIIT isn’t just for running – it can benefit your other workouts too.

Questions, comments or want to say something about your experience with HIIT?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.


**  I recommend that you follow the guidelines set forth by the Mayo Clinic regarding talking to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you haven’t exercised for some time, if you have health concerns, if you have an existing medical condition, or if you have any symptoms suggestive of heart, lung or other serious disease.   Please don’t take this lightly – our bodies have many complex inter-related systems and you only get one in this life – so make sure you take good care of it!


Burn more calories running in a shorter amount of time?

Previous posts have looked at some of the benefits of running and whether there is a time of day to get maximum benefit out of running, and whether or not morning is the very best time of day to run.

In this post I’ll briefly look at how to give your metabolism an extra boost and burn more calories with a shorter workout.

runnerThe key to burning more calories or gaining extra benefit from your exercise is intensity.
This applies to whether you are running, lifting weights, doing weight or resistance training – any kind of workout that you do.  The type of running workout I’m referring to is called HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training.
With HIIT you will burn more calories, your metabolism gets an extra (fat burning) boost, and you will boost other systems in your body as well (production of certain hormones).  The great news is that you can get these benefits without going to the same extremes mentioned in the previous post on boosted metabolism.  Some of you may find that doing a warmup and then HIIT is all you need to do to reach your fitness goals (if you plan to run races or with friends, I’d recommend training for those distances in addition to doing HIIT.

So how do you do HIIT?   It’s not just a matter of running “all out” or burning yourself out at max speed and then walking for a while. While there is a great degree of variation on what people mean by HIIT and how to actually do it I believe there is an optimal approach for the typical person seeking to live a healthy lifestyle.  In my next post I’ll give you my instructions on how to do HIIT the mrhlth way, some variations you can try depending on your schedule and goals, and benefits you can expect to gain from it.


How can you burn the most calories from running?

7658716_sFor many people, the main reason they got into running in the first place was not just for fitness’ sake or because the like to run.  If you ask them, you’ll often hear that losing weight or burning calories was what got them started at running (myself included).

As time goes by though – if you stick with it and run consistently – you reason for running shifts to other motivations and it becomes something you do for more than just weight loss.  However in the back of their mind, many runners still think about calorie burn for a number of reasons.

As a result, you’ll hear people talk about how running in the morning is best for calorie burn.  I am often asked that in question for – something like:  “Isn’t the morning when you will the biggest benefit from running; i.e. your metabolism will slowly ramp down after your run throughout the morning and you’ll burn calories for a longer period of time?”
If you read the previous posts on knowing the best time of day to run (part1 and part2), you know the answer to that is:  no.

So how can you burn the most calories from running?   And how do you get the longest post-run calorie burn?
The answer to the first question is this: be a regular and consistent runner and you will consistently burn calories.   Time of day really doesn’t matter that much – you should find and run during what you find to be the best time for you.

About that post-run calorie burn.   No matter when you run, you will burn extra calories afterwards as your metabolism ramps down – it’s just that this typically doesn’t last very long no matter what time of day you run for most people.  For the average person doing the average workout there less than half an hour boost which results in some extra calorie burn, but not all that much.   You will burn more calories and bring greater benefit to your metabolism by doing regular workouts – by running consistently and regularly.

There is one important exception to note however.   If your workouts are very intensive you will get an extended calorie burn that can last 10 hours or more.  This is vigorous, intense, extended exercise at the higher end of your ability.  In controlled studies, this is running or working out to the extent that drove many of the study participants to the point of nausea -(and this was for a 45 minute duration!) – not the kind of running that most people will do, will want to do, or should do on every run.  One North Carolina study documented a boosted metabolism for over 14 hours – but again, this came from a super-intense workout that you can’t repeat every day.

Is there a way to still get this benefit – even in a shorter workout?  Yes, and in upcoming posts I’ll cover both how to give your metabolism an extra boost and burn more calories with a shorter workout, and how often you should run.

If you have any questions or comments, use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Want to know the best time of day to run ? Part 2

If you want to find your best time of day for running, I recommend that you try different times of day  – and try them more than once.  This will give you an opportunity to feel how your body responds at different times of day.  By trying a certain time of day more than once you will make sure you didn’t rule out a time just because you tried it on an off day.

Mountain sunsetAfter hearing this, the question most people ask is a variation on:  “But isn’t there a time of day when I will get the most benefit out of the effort I put into running – when I will burn more fat, get maximum cardiovascular benefit, strengthen my muscles the most, etc.”.  To answer it simply – no.

Your maximum benefit comes from doing exercise consistently – and you are more likely to do that if you feel good.  Put another way – you are least likely to be consistent about running  if you try to do it at the time of day where it feels the worst, you “feel” the least benefit, and it fits the worst in your schedule.

Coming up we’ll look at the question of how to get maximum metabolic benefit from your running in order to address the question:
Isn’t the morning when you will the biggest benefit from running; i.e. your metabolism will slowly ramp down after your run throughout the morning and you’ll burn calories for a longer period of time?


Questions or comments?  Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Want to know the best time of day to run?

So, do you want to know the best time of day to run?

If you are like most people, you want to get the maximum benefit from any exercise or fitness activity.  I know that as a runner, I never stop looking or ways to get the maximum benefit from the effort I put in to my runs.  For many people, this is the same motivation behind the question of when is the best time of day to run?

As mentioned in a previous post, I personally prefer later in the day.  I know many runners who prefermr hlth on the trail to be up at the crack of dawn (or even earlier!).  Some people find it invigorating to start their day this way – while others just want to get their run out of the way as early as possible.  I prefer to save it for later as a stress reliever and a way to leave all the “stuff of the day” out on the trail.

Whether you end up being a morning runner or not, most people find that after experimenting and varying the time of day they will find a time that naturally resonates with their own personal makeup.  There are night people that feel like they are “just getting started” late in the evening and morning people who wake up bouncy, and others that don’t want anyone around until they have had a chance to thoroughly wake up – and it is the same way with running.  In my next post – so how do you find your best time of day?

When I run

In this post I’ll tell you my favorite time of day for running, and why and how that changes.

Talk to any number of runners and you’ll find a variety of opinions and reasons why their favorite time to run is the “best” time.
Many runners prefer to get their run it at the first light of day (or even before the sun comes up), but I’m not one of them.

Morning is NOT my favorite time of day – though there are times when I do that:

  • When I am meeting friends for a morning run (watch for an upcoming post on running with friends)
  • When I am traveling  (watch for more on running and travel in another post)
  • When I plan on running in a race (since most have a morning/early day start
  • When morning is the ONLY time I will be able to get a run in during that day

My favorite time of day, and the time when I usually run is late afternoon/early evening – and I’ll tell you why that is the best for me.

  • If it’s a workday, my biggest plus for running after work is pure stress relief
  • My body is wide awake, muscles have been in use and are generally warmed up from the day’s activities
  • It helps me both keep my appetite under control and therefore eat more sensible portions at dinner time
  • By this point in the day, I’m motivated to go use my muscles, push myself, and fee my body perform
  • It give me an energy, metabolism, and emotional boost later in the day when I need it

You may find that right after work or late in the day is best for you too.   The only way to know is to try it and see if that works for you and if your schedule allows it.   It took me many years of back and forth to find my best time.  In my next post I’ll talk about finding your best time to run.

Questions, comments, or something to say about running – leave a comment below.

Why I run

This is the second part of a series on running – in this post I’ll cover a little background on why I run.

I like to run and it’s one of my favorite fitness activities, and I hope that by giving you some of the reasons I like to run, that it might encourage you to make running a part of your plan for a healthy lifestyle.   I want to share with you a few of the reasons why I started running for fitness as an adult, and why it’s one of the mainstays of my healthy lifestyle.

Running for weight lossKozzi-sporty_womans_back_with_tape_measure-294x441
I started running in my 20s shortly after getting married, and becoming aware of my rapidly expanding waistline.  I talked to a friend who was an avid runner and he gave some tips to get me started; almost 30 years later I still enjoy the calorie burn I get from running.  Though there are many variables, you can roughly figure that you burn 100 calories per mile that you run.  When you do that consistently  (and don’t add to your diet to make up for the exercise you’re doing), tt add up and make a difference quickly.

Running for health
Running is a great overall exercise to promote cardiovascular health.  It gives you an opportunity to exercise your heart, lungs, legs and even stimulates blood flow to the brain.  As highlighted in a Time Magazine article from a few years ago, runners tend to live longer and healthier lives.  Running is one important part of my plan for my healthy lifestyle.

Running for stress relief
Everyone has to find the best time for them to exercise based on their life and preferences and personality.  I don’t agree with the philosophy that says everyone should get out and hit the road and run first thing in the morning right after getting up.  While exercise in the morning is not a bad thing – you need to find what works best for you.  I personally prefer to run after work, when I can “run out” the stress and pressures of the day, and leave them on the running trail (though sometimes it’s nice to fit in a mid-day run on an especially nice day).   I find it’s a great way to release stress and that I’m able to leave the “stuff of the day” out on the trail so that I can enjoy my evening.freeimage-875744

Running for fun
We all run, at least at one point we all ran.  When they think back, most people have pleasant childhood memories of sunny summer days,  grassy fields or lawns, and the feeling of the grass beneath your feet as you run playing tag or just playing.   Somewhere along the way that changes for many of us, and it takes something  to remind us that running really can be fun – not just a chore to get in shape or stay healthy.  Whether running with friends enjoying some friendly competition in a race, or just being able to spend some personal time breathing fresh air – running can even be a great get-way in the middle of a busy day that just might give you what you need to make it through the rest of the day.

In the next few posts we’ll look at how running can benefit you (not just losing weight), some suggestions on how to approach running (so that you won’t give up), and some tips and tricks to get the most out of it (and not sabotage your results).

Questions or comments?  I’d love to hear from you!  Use the field’s below to leave me any feedback about this post or anything else you might find here on

If you think you don’t have time to exercise, this post is for you.

I was reminded this morning about how easy it is to find ways add more movement and natural exercise to your day.
I hear every week from people who tell me about how busy they are and how they just don’t have time for exercise or fitness.

I think that you can make exercise a priority and find time in your day for some focused or planned exercise – this is the best way to make it work – actually plan exercise in to the schedule of your day.  However, if you or someone you know insists that they just don’t have time for it, I’d like to make a couple of suggestions for how you can incorporate important elements of physical fitness into your daily life.

1.  Skip the elevators.  I’d suggest doing this all the time – up and down, but even if it’s just on the way down, the extra walking and the jostling from taking the steps will do your body good.

2.  Walk to your mailbox.  When you get home, don’t drive up to your mailbox or stop by it as you enter your building.  Take a walk down your driveway to get your mail, or walk down the steps in your apartment building to get your mail.  Look for ways like this to add some extra steps to the things you have to do anyways and burn a few more calories along the way.

3.  Take a walk break at least every hour at work.  Studies consistently show that sitting for extended periods is not good for you, and in fact cause physiological changes in your blood chemistry and metabolism.  Take a short walk periodically, or stand for short periods while doing your work.  Some work places will even allow you to have a standing workstation.

4.  Park a little further from the store.  When you go on errands, stop looking for the closest parking space.  You can save time and get a walk in by choosing a spot a little further out in the parking lot.  Your vehicle’s body will be less likely to get dents and dings, and your body will benefit too.   If you only have a bag or two when you come out of the store, carry them instead of using a cart.

There are many other things you can do as well to add what I call natural exercise to your day.  While I don’t think it’s a total substitute for deliberate planned exercise, it’s a good way to get some extra movement during the day. Remember, your body was made for movement, and finding ways to incorporate natural elements of movement and fitness during your day is one way to help keep your body healthier.  You might find that it motivates you to schedule some time in your day and build it in your schedule.

Questions or comments?  Use the field below – I’d love to hear from you.

Start with your goals part three – what is really important to you?

This may be the most important part of what you need to do in order to begin to move toward a healthier lifestyle.  You have to decide what is really important to you – once you do this, you can begin to move toward it and eliminate the things that stand in your way.

You have to decide what is most important because that is will define what is not as important.  I know some people that can hardly ever pass a donut shop without stopping.  If donuts are your “thing” or you feel like you can never pass up chocolate cake, certain physical or fitness goals are probably out or reach.  If a certain level of physical health or athletic performance is your goal, it won’t seem like such a great sacrifice to give up some of the sugary treats and other things that you might otherwise eat.  To put it another way, think about whether the daily things you do from a dietary and fitness standpoint move you toward or away from a healthier lifestyle.   Did the dietary and exercise choices you made yesterday move you toward being healthier and feeling better, or was it just more of the same way you’ve done things for the last month, year or many years.

If your top priority is to wake up and feel healthy, strong and vital every day, to reduce illness and/or injury and to avoid the bad effects of the typical western diet, you begin the measure your meals and snacks and the things you do (or don’t do) against that goal.  I personally stay focused on how good I feel every day, and I don’t want anything to derail that or keep me from that.  In order to do this, I think it helps to keep this at the front of your mind with a simple phrase or reminder. 

If you’ve never felt that, or if you wake up not feeling good every day, I’d challenge you to consider changing your goals.  Don’t expect everything about your body and health to change overnight – because it won’t.  But you can begin today to make little changes that will move you toward a healthier lifestyle one little step at a time.  Remember that you didn’t get to where you are today overnight either.  Set your sights on a lifetime goal of healthy living and feeling good.


If you want to be healthier, start with your goals part2

Start with your goals part2, or why you need to ask yourself – what is “being healthy?”

The two most frequent questions I get when people talk to me about health and fitness are variations on:

  1. How can I lose weight?
  2. How can I get healthier?

It’s interesting to note that I don’t usually get questions about how to keep weight off or about what kind of healthy lifestyle will help you maintain a healthy weight.

(This is the root of yo-yo dieting; where people lose weight and then end up gaining back all the weight they lost – or sometimes even end up weighing more than they did at first.)  For this reason it’s very important to think about living at a healthy body weight rather than thinking about just losing a certain amount of weight or fat.

Body composition (muscle/fat) is also very important – it’s not just about losing weight.  This will be addressed in an upcoming post.

Also, I don’t usually get questions about maintaining a healthier lifestyle – the questions are usually about losing extra weight or losing fat and about getting “healthier” – not about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  This is the point of today’s post: you have to come up with a clear picture in your mind of what it means to have a healthier lifestyle.  This means you need to define what it means to be “healthier” thinking about it in terms of a lifestyle – something that you maintain.  This extends to all parts of your life:  diet, activity, fitness, stress, sleep, emotions, etc.

Once you can clearly picture what a healthy lifestyle looks like, you can begin reviewing your habits, diet, and different areas of your life and put a plan in place for a healthier lifestyle.  Make sure you read the upcoming posts for ways to clearly identify and define a healthy lifestyle and how to get there.

Questions or comments?  Use the form below – I’d love to hear from you.