If you’re considering running as a workout, you’re probably doing some research on it beforehand. Are you better off sprinting vs jogging? Does it even make a difference?
The short answer is yes. And whether you should be sprinting or jogging depends on what you want to accomplish (as well as what your body is able to safely handle).
The internet’s a valuable resource for runners, the variety of running options can get overwhelming. Some terms are erroneously used interchangeably by some, which is confusing for new runners. Running and jogging are not the same. Neither are jogging and power walks. And, in this case, neither is sprinting and jogging.
Especially at the beginning of your runner’s journey, you’re going to see sprinting and jogging come up often. They can’t be used interchangeably, and each offers very different benefits and poses its own set of drawbacks. To help aid you, we’ve broken down what these running forms are and how they’ll affect your body.
Sprinting vs Jogging: What’s the Difference?
For clarity’s sake, let’s get this out of the way first. Sprinting is a form of interval running and speed play. You’ll expend your entire energy in 30-second intervals of exertion over the course of roughly 30 minutes (your mileage and capability may vary at first).
Jogging, by comparison, is like listening to smooth jazz. You’re at a pace that’s faster than a power walk but slower than a regular run. You’ll maintain the same pace throughout the jog, as opposed to sprinting, which isn’t continuous. You also won’t be exerting yourself to nearly the same degree as sprinting, though you will be exercising for the same amount of time.
For those looking to lose weight, build muscle, or increase their cardiovascular health, the choice seems to be an easy one to make, but nothing is ever that simple.
What Are the Benefits of Sprinting?
Let’s get into the weeds of it now.
Due to the amount of exertion involved, your heart rate will be jacked. It’s an incredible cardiovascular exercise, working at 90% to 95% of your body’s maximum heart rate. Sprinting also works as both an aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Since you’re probably new to all this, we’ll explain.
An aerobic exercise is any exercise that benefits your cardiovascular health. It requires heavy breathing and a quickened heart rate. This allows for more oxygen to enter your body, feeding your muscles, and building endurance over time. It also helps boost your mood and can help you live longer than those who don’t engage in aerobic exercises.
While sprinting does have aerobic benefits, it’s primarily an anaerobic exercise. While you’ll have the benefits of both, anaerobic exercises are distinguished by their intensity.
During your sprints, you’ll be pushing your heart and your muscles to their limits. It will help you tone your glutes, core (abs for all!), and obviously, your legs. However, due to the exertion, you’ll quickly have less oxygen to rely on for energy and replenishment. Instead, your body has to use its reserves to have your muscles continue to function. It’ll break down the glucose and excess calories in your body, helping you lose weight at a faster rate. Since you’re changing your speed rapidly throughout the sprint, your muscles will be in a constant state of flux. The fast twitching muscle fibers allow greater flexibility and an increased opportunity to grow.
To get an idea of what you’ll do in a sprint workout, we’ll give you an example.
- Warm-up for 10 minutes.
- During the workout do one or two 20 second sprints toward the end to help your body understand the type of workout it’s about to endure.
- With the warm-up now over, run for 30 seconds as fast as you can. Use a timer or a marker to denote when/where to stop. This is a maximum effort you’re putting in. Run like you’re being chased by the IRS.
- Take a three-minute break to recover.
- Another 30-second maximum effort run.
- Take another three-minute break to recover.
- Continue this pattern until you’ve done five or six 30 second sprints.
- To make the math easier, let’s say you did six. That’s only three full minutes of sprinting, but trust me, it’ll feel like much more.
- Since your body has been through quite a lot in a short period of time, you’re going to still be keyed up. To help ease your body back into a stay of homeostasis (and avoid cramping), take 10 minutes to cool down–perhaps with a jog.
- You’ll note that your workout lasts no more than 40 minutes.
It’s a time-efficient workout with great benefits. Naturally, it comes with downsides.
What Are the Dangers of Sprinting?
This isn’t exactly a Batman-level mystery. You’re exerting your body to its absolute limits – what do you think the downside is?
Of course, there’s a good chance, especially early on, that you’ll fatigue early. The workout is brief but when it’s organized like this – at this intensity – it can seem like perdition itself. There’s a good chance, indeed, that when you first start sprinting, you likely won’t be able to do all five or six sets of 30 seconds. If you feel that you’re incapable of going on, stop where you are. Don’t endanger yourself.
The most obvious downside is the increased potential for injury. Muscle strains are quite common among sprinters who aren’t careful in their application of the exercise. Don’t increase your sprint duration to longer than a minute. Only sprint up to three days a week and not on consecutive days. You can substantially decrease the chances of injury by stretching and warming up for at least 10 minutes before every sprint exercise and by doing a cool down jog after the sprint is over.
Another likely source of injury – especially for new runners – is joint damage. Since you’re running at your hardest, your strides are more impactful. You’ll feel increased stress on your feet at the heel, all the way up to your hips.
You’ll sprint safer if you pay attention to your running form. Your heel should never be the first part of your foot to strike the ground. It will slow you down and increase the likelihood of injury to an already vulnerable area.
However, the most dangerous element of sprinting also comes from its greatest benefit: the effect it has on your heart.
Sprints demand a great deal from your heart – running at its near maximum. This isn’t always healthy for some people. Those with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or any type of heart-related issues should speak to a doctor before engaging in any sprinting or interval running. While you may not have any heart issues, adults 50 and over, should also speak to their doctor before sprinting.
What Are the Benefits of Jogging?
The benefits of jogging are the opposite of sprinting’s dangers. It’s a low impact exercise that doesn’t ask much of your heart or your joints. It’s an optimal exercise for those recovering from injuries who need to wake up muscle groups or those just getting into running as a way to increase their health.
Jogging offers cardiovascular benefits by working the heart out, though it won’t be beating at a higher rate like in sprinting. However, it will give you a boost in adrenaline and help release endorphins, which can relieve stress. The physicality of jogging itself can relieve stress my loosening muscle you’ve kept clenched and tight from, say, a hard day at work or an argument with a spouse.
The release of these feel-good chemicals can also benefit those who suffer from depression. Jogging decreases cortisol in the body, which builds up when you’re under stress. Cortisol is a biological ingredient in depression. Jogging fights it off.
For those new to jogging, we’ll give you a brief overview of what you’ll be doing. While you can jog every day, you should still have a day’s rest after consecutive days of running. This is especially true of those who are using jogging to help recover from an injury or have preexisting health issues. Like sprinting, you should consult your doctor before beginning.
But, for the sake of it, let’s say you’ve gotten the green light. Your jog should look like this.
- 10 to 15 minutes of warm-up stretching.
- 20 to 30 minutes of consistent jogging. Maintain a consistent speed of no more than 5 MPH. Phone apps and treadmills can help you manage your speed. For a looser method, if you can have enough breath to carry on a two-way conversation but not enough to monologue like a Shakespearean character, you’re at the right speed.
- You may or may not want to cool down with a power walk or a leisurely walk for a few minutes after.
What Are the Dangers of Jogging?
Well, there aren’t any dangers to jogging, exactly – provided that any aforementioned injuries and preexisting conditions have been discussed with your doctor. That’s one advantage of jogging vs sprinting.
But while jogging doesn’t have dangers, it does have an obvious disadvantage. Think about it. Is it faster to cross a channel in a speedboat or a rowboat? To be blunt, you won’t get all that far with jogging.
And I’m not talking about distance. I’m talking about plateauing.
All the weight you can lose, you’ve lost; all the endurance you’ve built is the endurance you’re going to build.
You can increase the length of your jogs or their frequency throughout the week, which should help you break through those plateaus – at least for a while. Of course, jogging too much can pose a potential injury risk, though that remains fairly low.
Jogging can be the right exercise for you depending on your capability and desires. It can also be the launching pad you need to fitness, increased health, or even to other forms of running – like sprinting.
So as you can see sprinting vs running/jogging is not a global answer that you can get, both sprinting and jogging have their benefits and their disadvantages.
So, sprinting vs jogging: what’s right for you?
The best part of that question is that there’s no wrong answer. Let us know yours in the comments below.