By: Dawn Garland
Run, run as fast as you can,
You can't catch me
Because I've started interval training...
Ok, worst adaptation of a poem ever. I fully admit that. But it's time to share with you guys about a new addition to my training. Some of you may be familiar with the term "HIIT." Also known as "high-intensity interval training". This is a type of training where you do a maximum effort of the exercise that you are doing (running, biking, rowing, swimming, etc) for short bursts and then have a recovery period immediately afterwards. Here's a much more fancy pants explanation.
The cool thing is that you can use HIIT for a variety of reasons. I specifically wanted to start doing this in order to increase my strength and stamina while running. Particularly during hilly sections of my runs, which I fully admit are my weakness. Since I am currently training for the Chick Fil A half marathon, I knew this was something I needed to work on. If the route is the same as last year's, those hills were NO JOKE.
I decided to alternate 2 kinds of HIIT training on my Thursday runs. One week, I would do speed work and one week I would do hill training. Last week was my first attempt at speed work. Now, I can probably count the number of times that I have sprinted on one hand. No joke. So this was going to be interesting. After looking at a number of options, I decided that my best bet was going to be a nice, slow 10 minute warmup jog and then 12 sets of 30 seconds of full out sprinting followed immediately by 30 seconds of recovery walking. I found a nice flat stretch of road in the neighborhood and gave it a whirl. Wow is all I can say. The first set of 6 were pretty good. Then my legs started to realize what I was doing and went "Um...what?" But I was determined to get 12 sets in. Let me tell you, that last sprint was one of the best feelings I'd ever had. I felt like I was flying! And that I'd seriously conquered something pretty big. I then took a 10 minute walk/jog cool down back to the house.
Today was hill training. It is a similar concept- find a hill (short and steep, medium length and not quite as steep, or a long gradual incline) and run up it as fast as you can. Then, turn around and walk back down to the bottom to recover. I decided that 12 repeats of this sounded like a good place to start. I did my 10 minute warmup jog and headed toward the hill. It is amazing to me what muscles you find yourself using that you were unaware of before! For whatever reason, my inner thighs were feeling it on those hills! The first 6 repeats went fine. After that, it became much more challenging. But I didn't quit. Repeats 10 and 11 took A LOT of will power, I'll tell you that much. But repeat 12 was awesome. My legs knew it was the last one and I ran as fast and as hard as I could! And when I got to the top of the hill and my legs were shaking from the effort, I felt fantastic. I took a nice slow 10 minute walk/jog back to the house.
Here's the extremely super duper very important part of this kind of training. And it is NOT OPTIONAL. You have to commit to seriously stretch afterwards. Both immediately after the training session and then several times during the day. Otherwise you will be very VERY sore the next day. I have a regular desk job and I plan on getting up at least twice this morning and twice this afternoon to give my legs a good stretch. Even if it's just for a minute or two.
So there you go. The newest training option that I've thrown into my routine. If you're looking to boost your performance, give it a try. You may find yourself loving it, in spite of how ridiculous it might sound. And imagine the results after a month or two!! (That's what I'm doing, anyway.)
Side note/product recommendation! I got a pair of Thorlos socks this past week to try. I'm sure most of you have probably heard of them and/or are already using them. Yes, I'm late to the party as usual. Let me tell you, if you haven't tried these, you have NO idea what you are missing. Holy cow. These were, hands down, the most comfortable running socks I have ever worn. Extremely cushioned right where you need it and very supportive. They currently have an offer where just for the cost of shipping, you can try out a pair. Here's the link to that section of the webpage. I am telling you, do yourself a favor and GET A PAIR. And then thank me later.
How's your training going? Anything new or fun you're trying? Hit me up- @ReluctRunner on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Till next time, run on...
Dawn Garland is a native of Tampa, FL. She reads, she writes, she knits and does not believe that any college football conference can live up to the SEC. Dawn works at the University of Georgia as an analyst/consultant and her biggest accomplishment in life so far is the walking talking sports almanac that is her eight year old son.