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Difference Between Running & Sprinting

author image Adrienne Michalek
Based in Okinawa, Japan, Adrienne Michalek began her health and fitness career in 1996 at Appalachian State University where she received an award for “Fitness Instructor of the Year." She holds an undergraduate degree in health promotion and a Master’s degree in public health.
Difference Between Running & Sprinting
Sprinting or running? It depends on distance and speed. of running. Photo Credit: Milan Stojanovic/iStock/Getty Images

Running and sprinting are vigorous intensity exercises. While they both use the same muscle groups, the difference lies in speed. Sprinting is a more powerful, faster form of running that can only be performed in short spurts.

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Running is a form of cardiovascular exercise that is performed for at least 10 minutes to be considered aerobic, using oxygen to primarily fuel your muscle cells. Though there is no determined speed that classifies a run, you typically run at a speed that causes you to breathe heavier and break a sweat. During competition, popular running races include the 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon.


When he sprints, a runner maintains his full speed for the entire run. In competition, sprint races include the 100, 200, and 400 meter dash and are typically run in less than 60 seconds. When you begin to sprint you cross into an anaerobic zone and use glycogen rather than oxygen to fuel your muscle cells. The buildup of glycogen produces lactic acid which makes you quickly feel fatigue and, in some cases, a burning sensation in your muscles. This is why a sprint cannot be held for long distances or durations.

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