Do you like to chat while running?

One of the things I’ve always stated about exercise is that motivation rules all.


One of the things I’ve always stated about exercise is that motivation rules all. You can know all there is to know about a fitness lifestyle and have excellent genetics, but if you spend all your time on the couch scarfing ice cream then it’s all for naught. This is why this latest research about intensity level and running has me riding the fence.

Have you heard of the sing-talk test? It is a simple test for assessing an appropriate level of exercise intensity, stating that if you can sing you need to run faster, but if you can talk then that’s a good pace. Well, the latest research states that if you can talk, that’s still probably not good enough for maximizing results. If you have more ambitious training goals then you really shouldn’t be able to talk, at least not without some gasping. You should really not want to talk. This is what improves your level of fitness and helps you achieve maximum results.

I can attest to that, and have written about it here and here for the LA Times. Also consider the fact that a faster pace burns more calories per mile.

So, yes, running faster is going to burn more calories, generate a more impressive training response, give you a higher-performance body, lead to more improvements in body composition, and quite likely even have a more profound positive impact on overall health. What’s more, I believe that pushing yourself hard teaches a certain mental toughness that makes us better at resisting junk food and making wiser dietary choices.

One note is that increased speed is something that needs to come gradually to avoid injury. You don’t just all of a sudden decide to start training like your butt is on fire and you’re running away from the flames. Just FYI, this is how I run, but I don’t run with friends. My friends can’t keep up.

But what if you really like talking while running? A workout partner can be very motivating, and if you love running and chatting with a friend with no one else like kids/spouse/doorbell/boss etc. to interfere with that conversation, then chances are you don’t want to miss out on it. If you’ve got regular dates booked with a good friend for running and catching up with each other, then do you want to give that up? Do you both want to run faster so that the conversation part gets left out? I’m guessing no.

I wouldn’t recommend sacrificing enjoyment and motivation for additional results. If you want to go out solo every once and a while and push it harder, then great, but the most important thing is lifetime sustainability, and that comes from loving what you’re doing.

So have that conversation if you want. Have some fun.

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