Monday, July 27, 2009

Interval training rocks!

I first learned about interval training when I did Body For Life a few years ago. It basically means that you alternate intensity throughout your cardio workout, with periods of relative ease interspersed between periods of wanting to just about die. While you might burn more calories if you maintained a high intensity the whole time, you cannot maintain your peak for very long. With interval training, you can actually reach higher levels of intensity for more combined time, because these high intensity bits come in bursts with a chance to recover in between. In fact, as you go through the workout, you can get MORE intense as your muscles warm up and your heart gets really pumping.

I only follow the Body For Life version when I'm on some kind of machine where I can keep track of the time and have an objective measurement of my intensity. Currently, I don't belong to a gym so that's not an option. Instead, I take a circuit around my neighborhood, alternating walking and running. Each running leg, I have landmarks to start and stop so I know I'm doing at least as much as the day before, if not more. Each leg, I run until I just about want to die. If I set out to just run the whole thing, I'd run maybe a quarter mile and then peter out and quit in a quarter mile. Instead, by taking brief walk breaks between running legs, I can recover and run again until I just about want to die. I even get faster with each successive leg, almost without thinking about it, and I actually sprint on my last one (with bit steps to practice for showing horses). I get much more running in this way, running probably a mile of my mile-and-a-half or so circuit.

When I started this program earlier this year, my circuit was about a mile and I didn't quite run half of it--I had two running legs. Now, I have five running legs. The walk breaks are getting shorter and the running legs are getting longer. Eventually, I hope to hook a couple of them together. Some day, I'll be able to run the whole thing, interspersing sprints with jogging. For now, I feel a little pathetic, but I'm much less pathetic than I was a few months ago! Just wait until I weigh 30 pounds less...


Angel said...

Sounds like you are doing great to me and congrats on the weight loss!

Jennifer Walker said...

Thanks, Angel!