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I am currently following the R4FL training program for running. It trains me to run up to about 60 minutes, but the last two weeks are mostly intervals, sprints and Fartlek runs.

R4FL calendar

where:

  • Steady = 70% Max HR
  • 8x3 min fast = Interval Training: Alternate between 3 min of high intensity with 2 min of light recovery.
  • 3x10 intervals = Split Training. These are 10 min bouts of intense work. Should be near maximal effort for the recommended time. Recover with walking in between.
  • 150:30 Intervals = Sprints: Alternate between 30 sec of super high intensity with 150 sec of light recovery (15x)
  • 45 min Fartlek: Fartlek Run. Use random period of intervals of high intensity. Combine periods of near maximum effort with recovery. Use your own ability to determine how long each period is

Once I finish the program, what types of runs should I do to maintain the same training level? Should I simply do 60 minutes runs, or also use intervals? If so, which and how often?

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Can you post details about the routine? It looks like one would need to sign up on the site to see it. –  Doc Feb 7 '13 at 18:39
    
@Doc: I've done it. –  Sklivvz Feb 7 '13 at 19:05
    
You could have a look at the programs MiCoach generates, then manually copy them into Runkeeper. Unless you run without a heart rate monitor, in which case you could switch to MiCoach entirely. –  Ivo Flipse Feb 8 '13 at 14:08

1 Answer 1

Ok. Well, given the nature of the routine, this question is kind of ambiguous. Maintenance in this case may be considered maintaining a certain weight (since the routine suggests it's a weight loss routine), or it could mean conditioning level (since this routine involves a significant amount of metabolic conditioning). Or, maybe it's both.

Let's examine the possibilities.

After you've finished your routine and you have achieved a weight that you wish to maintain, you could simply cut out the conditioning altogether and reduce your caloric intake to match the needs of your physique. You'll notice muscle atrophy since you aren't conditioning any longer, and you'll have to taper caloric intake accordingly.

Conversely, you could try to be formulaic about your conditioning to match the caloric consumption of the last few weeks of your R4FL routine. In this case, you would need to try to keep your diet as constant as possible as well.

Let's assume it's both: you continue with your current diet, and for lack of ideas, you continue repeating the last few weeks of the routine. Unless you're dumping tons of refined starches and sugars into your body at every meal, you'll probably continue to lose weight. Those types of interval training sessions are extremely demanding. (If I may interject my own experience, I've seen 1000+ calories burned in the span of 20 minutes of high intensity intervals.) Furthermore, I think that it would be difficult for you to repeat your intervals at exactly the intensity you performed them at the previous time, just because you'll be in better shape. You'll perform them better, faster, and with more calories. Since intervals also introduce an anaerobic element to your training, you'll also be putting on muscle. Muscle require more calories to "own and operate".

It's difficult to answer this question exactly. I suppose ultimately when you finish this routine, you'll want to decide what you want to do. What type of exercise do you like doing? Do you just want to not be fat? Do you just want to run 60 minutes? Do you like doing intervals? Do you want to do both? Do you want to do neither? If you keep it up, the fat will stay off -- and likely continue coming off. If you don't keep it up, you'll have to play a game of weights and balances to eat just the right amount. In the long term (if your goal is strictly aesthetics), the type of routine you do will start to shape your physique in different directions. Distance running will give more of "stringy" physique, where intervals will give you a more "lean" or "fit" physique. If you're bored of running, maybe try doing something like following the crossfit.com main website's daily workout routines (there's pretty much something new and challenging every day -- check here for a scaled version of the workout of the day). I can refine my answer for you given some feedback.

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Hi, thanks. My long term objective is to have a sustainable set of cardio exercises to stay healthy - I don't really have anything more specific than that. I already do a strength training programme on the off days. My confusion was more about the purpose of all the interval/sprint/split sessions. As you noted, they are crazy hard :-) –  Sklivvz Feb 8 '13 at 8:25
    
By training level I simply meant the same stamina/pace/distance when running. –  Sklivvz Feb 8 '13 at 8:25

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