Cut the Cardio and Cross Train

Training for a half marathon doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be hitting your health goals. Endurance training can have untold stress on the body from a lower immune system to respiratory infections, since the body is in a prolonged state of stress. White blood cell counts stay elevated, making it easier to be susceptible to colds and infections.

Many athletes who begin long distance running don’t follow best practices. Increasing mileage too quickly, not allowing enough time in between runs, not adequately fueling and refueling, and skipping the warm up and cool down will have damaging effects on the body and take you longer to recover.

Long cardio sessions may also be counterproductive to weight loss. Long slow sessions initiate the stress hormone, cortisol, which leads to inflammation and triggers hunger more often. If you’re new to training, your body will release more cortisol than athletes who have grown used to prolonged physical activity.

Energy Fitness tested these theories by monitoring a subject’s weight, body fat, and basal metabolic rate before and after training for a half marathon using the Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis device. Over a four month period, the subject’s weight increased by 3.6% and her body fat also increased by 1.7%, while her basal metabolic rate decreased by 1%.

Instead of relying on cardio to lose weight, consider high intensity interval training (HIIT). This involves short bursts of intense activity followed by a brief rest period. According to the National Institute of health, HIIT is one of the most effective ways to burn fat.

HIIT is also a great way to cross train for your endurance sport. Cross training allows certain muscles to rest while others engage, which means less burnout and shorter recovery times. HIIT introduces weight training, which helps build muscle, counteracting the muscle loss that usually comes with long cardio sessions. More muscle means a higher metabolism. Incorporate interval training 2-3 times per week for best results.





5 min easy warm-up

5-10 min easy warm-up

5-10 min easy warm-up


– 30 sec high intensity

– 30 sec rest

– 45 sec high intensity

– 45 sec rest

– 60 sec high intensity

– 60 sec rest


– 20 sec high intensity

– 10 sec rest


– 90 sec high intensity

– 45 sec low intensity or rest


Tonya Tittle is the Owner/ Director of Training at Energy Fitness, a boutique personal training & nutrition studio downtown Memphis since 2002. She holds a Masters degree in Exercise Science. She is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist and obtained a therapeutic lifestyle certification from Metagenics. She is a multi-sport athlete. Contact her at 552 South Main,, (901) 523-2348.

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