Here are the two cases:

Case 1: Using a preprogrammed cardio workout on my treadmill. It runs for half an hour, and starts off slowly. After the first five minutes of running at 4, 5, then 6 km/h. For the next 20 mins, it begins alternating between 10 and 11 km/h. Then for the last 5 mins, it ramps back down to 5 then 4 km/h. By the end of the workout, I have run around 4 km.

So pretty much, I run at an average speed of 8 km/h.

Case 2: Running at 8 km/h for 30 mins

I'm asking this because I have trouble maintaining the period of switching between 10 and 11 km/h. However, I can maintain 9 km/h for 10 mins. I want to know whether case one has any clear benefits over case 2. Because I would prefer to do case 2.

  • What is your objective ? Weight loss ? Endurance ? It can matter for some objectives and not for others
    – P154
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 10:35
  • @P154 How about both?
    – skillz21
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 10:36
  • I don't know for endurance, but for weight loss, only calories consumption matters. I'd say that case 1 is better for this, but I'm not an expert and, if your treadmill can tell you this, or your smart watch or whatever, I suggest you try both and check your spent calories. For cardio, I don't know but if case 1 is harder, case 1 may be better. I'm far from an expert in weight loss (quite the opposite) & in cardio neither. So, you'd better wait for someone who knows this better
    – P154
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


It matters, but not in the way you think it does. While it sounds counterintuitive, the burn rate for running is pretty flat and weight based. In general, you will burn somewhere around 80-120 calories per mile depending on your weight and running efficiency, and that burn rate holds no matter how fast you run. That means that if your personal rate per mile is 100 calories, and you run 5 miles, you will burn 500 calories. It doesn't matter if you do it in an hour, or in 30 minutes, it's still 500 calories. So if your main goal for the run is calorie burn, 4km is 4km is 4km. (i.e. do case 2).

People think "Ok, so I ran 5 miles in 30 minutes and he ran 5 miles in an hour, I had to have burned more calories because I was working harder!", and that isn't so.

Now, if your intent is to stress different metabolic pathways, run higher pace for competitive training, etc., then play around with the higher intervals and similar.

Final answer, for calorie burn, minimal if any difference so do what you want. For training purposes, gear the workout to the intended purpose and don't worry about the calories.


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