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Running substitutes and the effect on actual running

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    Running substitutes and the effect on actual running

    Due to weather conditions in January (snow, ice) I decided to change my daily running routine to the suggested running substitutes you can find on the darebee-site, even though I was a bit skeptical if the substitutes are really as beneficial as actual running. So I decided to start an experiment and now want to present and share my results with you, which are, I think, impressive!

    What did I do?
    First of all I picked a route which is exactly 3k long and measured my speed and the time I needed using the runtastic app for measuring. Afterwards I started a 30-days-programe doing only the exercises suggested in the article about running substitutes and stopped going on actual runs. After the 30 days I wanted to do run the same 3k route under the same conditions and see how beneficial or not the substitutes are.

    Here is how it went and what I did exactly:
    I picked some of the suggested exercises and increased the intensity slowly over the first 15 days. On day 1 I did the following routine:

    - 5 minutes of bouncing on the spot
    - 20 jumping lunges
    - 5 minutes of jumping jacks
    - 50 squats
    - 50 kicks
    - 20 pushups
    - 200 straight punches
    - 5 minutes of side leg raises (and right now I see that the article says side kicks damn it!)

    For the first 15 days I built up on this routine and ended up doing this on day 15:

    - 15 minutes of bouncing on the spot
    - 80 jumping lunges
    - 15 minutes of jumping jacks
    - 50 squats
    - 50 kicks
    - 30 pushups
    - 400 straight punches
    - 10 minutes of side leg raises

    The last 15 days I changed the intensity of the routine depending on how I feel and how hard I wanted my workout to be. Here are the ranges:

    - 10 - 15 minutes of bouncing on the spot
    - 50 - 80 jumping lunges
    - 10 - 15 minutes of jumping jacks
    - 50 squats
    - 50 kicks
    - 20 - 30 pushups
    - 300 - 400 straight punches
    - 5 - 10 minutes of side leg raises

    During the 30 days I combined this routine with 30 days of hiit. After I finished the 30 days I planned to do the 3k run again, but had to take a 5 day break from exercising at all because of recovering from a cold. On day 36 after 30 days of running substitutes and 5 days of rest I finally managed to do the 3k run again under the same conditions. And here are the results:

    Before the 30 days:
    - time needed: 18:01 minutes
    - average pace: 05:56 min/km
    - speed: 10,1 km/h
    - max. speed: 17,4 km/h

    After the 30 days + 5 days of rest:
    - time needed: 15:09 minutes
    - average pace: 05:02 min/km
    - speed: 11,9 km/h
    - max. speed: 17,6 km/h

    I was very surprised about the progress over those 30 days, especially because I didn't expect any progress at all but only maintenance. But actually the results aren't that surprising: the increase in strength is caused by a different and new stimulus to different muscle groups forcing them to adapt. The result is a better overall leg strength allowing you to put every reserve into your running-speed, combined with an endurance-element due to hiit, bouncing on the spot and the jumping jacks helping you to maintain the speed.

    Even though the results aren't that surprising on a second glance, it is great evidence for runners -just like me- that are skeptical about the beneficial aspects of running substitutes. So if you want to increase your running speed, especially during winter, consider stop running at all and substitute it.

    very interesting indeed Carnap by chance do you have the ability to track results on longer distance ? My suspicion is that for short distance (3k) the impact is huge and this is backed up by the way short distance runners tend to train (including strength exercise, explosive plyo etc) but I wonder how it impacts if it impacts longer distances like 10k upwards.
    Thumbs up in any case for your experiment


      xingyiquan good point! I was wondering if there is an noticeable impact on longer distances, too. I am going to run my next half marathon in may this year, so maybe I can repeat it and compare longer distances during my training starting next month. Unfortunately, I am not sure how my training will look like in detail yet and if I can go for another 30 days of substitutes, but if I do I will definitely keep you updated.


        Thank you Carnap, this is very interesting. I also got stuck not running due to ice (snow I care less, but ice is my nemesis). Thank you for the info and your feedback, I will definitely keep it in mind !


          thanks Carnap looking forward to read about your findings