Calorie-burning sessions

Calorie-burning sessions that will help you slim down - and speed up

Posted: 4 May 2007
by Matt Fitzgerald

Cranking up the intensity is the best way to take your running to the next level. It’s also an effective way to burn extra calories and shed body fat. A 68kg runner who picks up the pace from eight and a half minutes per mile to seven minutes per mile, for example, burns about 180 extra calories an hour. Should you speed up all of your runs that dramatically? No, but the following five sessions include segments of higher-intensity running to boost your calorie burn. Try one or two per week, and include a five-minute warm-up and cool-down with each session.


Joe Vigil, a coach, designed this session for leg turnover and speed, but it also burns maximum calories in minimum time.
  • Go to your local track, or find a flat area where you can mark off 100 metres, and then every 10 metres after that up to 200 metres.
  • Run 100 metres at roughly one-mile race pace. Note your time. Recover by walking from the finishing point back to the starting point.
  • Run 110 metres slightly faster, so your 110-metre time is a second more than your 100-metre time. Recover as above.
  • Run 120 metres even faster, so that your 120-metre time is just two seconds greater than your 100-metre time. Recover as above.
  • Continue in this manner all the way up to 200 metres. Your 200-metre time should be about 10 seconds more than your 100-metre time.
Estimated Burn 340 calories


Brad Hudson, a former 2:13 marathon runner and coach, likes to incorporate lots of short hill sprints into the sessions he prescribes. “They’re great for developing running-specific strength,” he says. Running hills also burns calories at a higher rate than running on flat terrain. This session combines hill sprints with 10K-pace mile intervals.
  • Run 2 x 1 mile at 10K race pace. Follow each mile with three minutes’ jogging for recovery.
  • Run for 20 seconds up part of a steep hill at maximum speed. Jog slowly for two minutes to recover. Do a total of five hill sprints.
Estimated Burn 466 calories


Matt Centrowitz, a cross-country coach, is a big believer in sessions that closely simulate the demands of racing. Here’s a race-specific session he recommends to prepare for a peak 10K performance and incinerate a lot of calories.
  • Run 800 metres roughly 20 seconds faster than your 10K goal pace. For example, if your 10K goal pace is eight minutes per mile, aim for 3:40. Walk or jog for two to three minutes for recovery.
  • Run 800 metres roughly 10 seconds faster than your 10K goal pace. Recover as above.
  • Run two miles at your 10K goal pace. Recover as above.
  • Run 800 metres roughly 10 seconds faster than your 10K goal pace. Recover as above.
  • Run 800 metres roughly 20 seconds faster than your 10K goal pace. Recover as above.
Estimated Burn 520 calories


Steve Moneghetti, the Australian four-time Olympic marathon runner, developed a unique fartlek session that alternates short bursts of fast and slow running to boost overall calorie burn.
  • Run two sets of 90 seconds hard (five to 10 seconds per mile faster than 5K race pace), 90 seconds easy (45 to 50 seconds per mile slower than the hard segments).
  • Run four sets of 60 seconds hard, 60 seconds easy.
  • Run four sets of 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy.
  • Run four sets of 15 seconds hard, 15 seconds easy.
Estimated Burn 400 calories


Greg McMillan, a coach, has done this session since his days as a school cross-country runner. “The session is exhilarating, yet it doesn’t require a long recovery,” he says. “You feel no lasting effects on your next run.” So you can use the Superfast Finish to torch a few extra calories during average training runs or long endurance runs.

Choose a running distance that is appropriate to your current fitness level and goals. Complete all but the last five minutes at a comfortable aerobic pace. Run the last five minutes at approximately 5K race pace.

Estimated Burn 390 calories for a 30-minute run (without including a warm-up or cool-down).

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Discuss this article

Running is rather unusual in that the amount of energy expended by an individual depends on the distance run and not on the speed. A 68kg person will expend around 68kCal when running 1km regardless of whether it is run in 4min or 6min. Thus to burn more energy you simply need to run further.

Only if your workout is time constrained do you need to run faster in order to run further in a limited time. However, runs of more that 1hr duration will maximize your fat burn.
Posted: 09/05/2007 at 09:31

I've lost over 5 stone since I started my running and diet regime in March 2007. I'm 6ft tall and now weigh 15 stone.

 I have now reached a plateau - I don't seem to be losing any more weight, and my body fat content isn't reducing either.

I try to run 3 times a week. My routine consists of 2 x 5 miles at about 10min/mile pace - those runs include alot of hills and 1 x 7 miles at a similar pace but including some sprints - along a beach.

I try to limit my calorie intake to about 1300 cals a day on the days I dont run, and 1500 on the days that I do.

Is running longer the answer, or is running faster i.e further in the same time frame the key to progressing? 

Posted: 28/11/2007 at 10:30

Neither!  The answer is to eat more!

For your height and weight, you should be eating nearer to 3000 calories a day.  Your body will be in starvation mode, and will be hanging on to every calorie it can (do you feel tired all the time by any chance?).

Calculations and stuff for your base metabolic rate (minimum calories needed just to exist) and at different activity levels are here.

Well done on the weight loss to date - that's fantastic, and I bet you feel the better for it.

Posted: 28/11/2007 at 11:42

I do feel better for the weight loss, and it's true that I often feel tired during the day, but I still need to lose about 3 stone.

Increasing my calorific intake leads to weight gain (I have tried). Perhaps increasing calories and increasing exercise is the way forward. I could exercise 5 days a week (perhaps running/weight/running/cycling/swimming/running) but I think 4 days a week is more realistic.

I've been following a calorie controlled diet for some time. I've read just about every diet book in existence (probably an exaggeration) and the science behind the method seems sound (but I accept that there is a debate). 

I've looked into regimes like Lighterlife and they seem positively unsound (not to say expensive).

I think I'll have to experiment some more. All suggestions will be gratefully considered.

Posted: 28/11/2007 at 14:46

For the food side - Have you ever tried food combining? It really does work and is all about eating the right foods together to aid good digestion. Gillian McKeith has a section in her book about it but the rules are quite simple really. I'm currently doing it at the moment, I have a few stones to lose too, I'm upping the running sessions and in the new year training for another half marathon.
Posted: 28/11/2007 at 22:40

train for an ironman you lose f@*king thousands of calories
Posted: 28/11/2007 at 22:45

O.K good tips.

Aitch - I'd be interested in swapping diet tips / training tips,what do you think?

Iron Snorks - easier said than done. Realistically I could train for a sprint triathlon, any tips?


Posted: 29/11/2007 at 00:07

mmm loads -

my first would be to pop on over to the tri thread loads of helpful pirates on there

Posted: 29/11/2007 at 08:26

Paul - Of course we can swap tips! I could use a virtual training buddy to keep the motivation going!  

 I'm just enquiring about spining sessions at my local leisure centre as I think cross training helps rather than just having the same routine. Need to do some sort of resistance training I think, to build muscle

IS - My friends fella is tarining for an iron man - I have a lot of respect for you the training is so intense, not to mention the actual event!! Good on you! I only just managed to run a half marathon!!

Posted: 29/11/2007 at 12:55

Apparently I can't spell anymore - SORRY! On work computer which doesn't spell check!
Posted: 29/11/2007 at 12:57

atich - anyone can do an ironman trust me!!!!!

Posted: 29/11/2007 at 13:40

As if! I would not be able to! I did contemplate a marathon but I think even that feels out of the question! I am defo of the opinion that you can train your body to do anything you want it to but I really don't think I could!!
Posted: 29/11/2007 at 15:12

honestly you could its all in the mind
Posted: 29/11/2007 at 16:13

I might have to trust you on that! One day maybe a marathon, I'll have to see!
Posted: 29/11/2007 at 17:11

you'll do a half mara then its a mara then onto the ironman thats what happened to me its like a drug
Posted: 29/11/2007 at 17:47

I'll be doing my second half in April but it'll probably take a lot for me to do anything more. You're really trying to get me to do something else aren't you?!!
Posted: 29/11/2007 at 22:18

no no its not that much more honest once you get into the mind set its all should try a sprint tri its great fun
Posted: 29/11/2007 at 22:36

My swimming and cycling aren't that good though! I should really do more different exercise sessions so maybe that would help
Posted: 29/11/2007 at 22:52


Pop goes my lurking virginity but...

I started out almost two years ago with a beer gut Wayne Slob would have been proud of and a lifestyle to match. Challenged by a friend to do the Ilkley Tri (good local sprint event) I trained non stop for about a week and staggered round in just under an hour and lit up a fag almost on crossing the finish line.  Unfortunately for me (and my family) I had caught the bug!

I have now given up smoking, nearly packed in the drinking, can pop out for a quick 10K before dinner and know I'll be back in less than 50 mins, feel good, can keep the weight off (I have lost about 2 1/2 stone) and last September I crossed the finish line at the Monaco 70.3 in 7 hours 46 mins.

Aitch, if you want to do an IronMan, run a marathon, run a half whatever, get out and do it but be sure to have booked the next few years off as you will not want to stop!  It is the crack cocaine of exercising.  You would benefit from doing different exercises other than just running as it not only fools your body into thinking that it is being pushed but it keeps the interest up.

Paul, IS is right.  Doing the IronMan thingy is a phenominal way to loose weight.  If you have been running/cycling/swimming at the same pace for a while try changing your sessions.  Join a local tri club and do a few speed sessions and you may find that your plateau stops.  I went through the same thing at about a stone and a half and found that training differently worked to both increase my speed and accelerate weight loss.

IS, well done.  IronMan France for me in 2009 and aiming to knock a decade or so off my time for Monaco in '08.  Addicted? Moi?

I hope that y'all don't mind my ramblings


Posted: 30/11/2007 at 11:42

I never actually said I wanted to do one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Although all this talk is making me feel like I want to do something more than running. I'm ot a stong swimmer but I think I might start - even just once a week to improve on the fitness and get the weight down. I always feel likle i neglect my upper body and my muscle tone for my upper bodyis very poor. You've given me food for thought though. I never thought I'd ever be able to run 13 miles as on my first run ever I was out of breath and had to stop after 5 mintues but it is true that you can push your body to achieve anything you want it to! I'm still not thinking I could attempt a marathon but one day I'd like to - it must be such an achievement!

I'm mighty impressed with you iron men (excuse the pun) I think that is the ultimate achievement!


Posted: 30/11/2007 at 12:08

the great thing with triathlon is that you never bored cos you alwats shifting between the three run, swim, bike etc. and you dont have to be goos you have to give it a go.
Posted: 30/11/2007 at 13:52

I promise I will give something new a go - just for you!
Posted: 30/11/2007 at 14:22

cool job done for today then
Posted: 30/11/2007 at 16:40

Your work here is done! I just had a horrible run - you know the one, when you just feel horrid and everything is against you and you really have to struggle round. Not a happy bunny now!
Posted: 30/11/2007 at 16:56

go for a swim or cycle then
Posted: 30/11/2007 at 20:51

Ok ok, I will. I don't have a bike so wil have to be a swim with the scallys at the local pool!
Posted: 30/11/2007 at 23:37

you can get a cheap bike doesnt matter just get out and try it
Posted: 01/12/2007 at 07:27

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