There is a bit of an anti-running movement out there and while (as a sprinter) I am happy to see that there is a revolt against jogging as a fitness modality, making a blanket statement about the value of all running is ridiculous.
I’ve heard people say that running is unnecessary and decreases muscle. I’ve heard other fitness coaches (thankfully none at CFT); say that you should cut out all running. No Joke. How about this; Humans are literally built for running in terms of biomechanics. There are few animals better adapted to run more efficiently. And as far as making a list of the most important things you need to do for survival, running is right up there at the top of the list along with breathing, the consumption of food and water, and keeping your heart running. Seeing these huge, strong weightlifters bash running and then go out and move like garbage is absurd.
Sprints, i.e. everything from 10 meters to 800 meters, and agility work all have huge benefits to fitness and well being, such as increasing Human Growth Hormone, Testosterone, Endorphin production (i.e. “runner’s high”), leg and core strength, coordination, power and explosiveness, and soft/hard tissue integrity. It is also a powerful means to increase flexibility and mobility, and to prevent injury. Interestingly enough to the weightlifters who dislike running, if they would begin sprinting regularly it would almost certainly increase their lift maximums if they were stuck at a plateau.
Here is a brief list of sprint distances and their benefits:
Short Sprint: 10m to 100m, along with hill sprints and agility drills
These distances are excellent for increasing speed, power and agility, primarily by strengthening your legs, core, and upper body through the development fast-twitch muscle. If you run these distances at 100% effort have a full recovery in between. Run anywhere from 5 to 10 sprints. If you run Interval repeats of 80%-90% effort at these distances with partial recovery (1-3 minutes) in between it will begin to work on conditioning.
Long Sprint: 100m to 800m
These still could be considered an extension of the short distances, though they begin to tap strongly into serious anaerobic work, especially for the 400m to 800m distances. Conditioning and anaerobic endurance/threshold will be developed along with strength, power, and lactate tolerance. It will begin to challenge your mental toughness and ability to focus on technique. For the 100m or 200m distances, run anywhere from 2 to 5 sprints at 100% effort with a full recovery. If you run interval repeats at 70%-90% speed with partial recovery in between (2-5 minutes), you can run 5 to 8 sprints. For the skeptical badass, this is an incredible metabolic conditioning workout. Run a few repeats at 400 or 800 meters, and you may forget how much you hate thrusters, burpees, or KB swings. Seriously.
Super Long, Hard Stride: The Mile
This is about half aerobic and half anaerobic work, which makes it difficult to get good at, but all that means is training at this distance will substantially increase your awesomeness and fitness. This distance should still be run hard and at a fast stride. Work done with the mile at a fast pace will exponentially develop aerobic capacity and VO2 max capability, along with seriously increasing anaerobic threshold, glycogen storage, and lactate tolerance.
So there it is guys. Get out and run. Seriously, your overall fitness will sky rocket, your moods will improve, and your body will thank you.