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Run Like a Pro with Interval Fitness Training
Say hello to spring with these “FUN” interval workouts! The world is your interval-fitness oyster! Spring is in the air (yay)! It is the perfect time to use interval training to mix up your workouts and bust through a fitness plateau.
Compete at a Race or Triathlon
Need extra motivation, sign up for an upcoming running race. Having an established (and pre-paid) goal can help you stay motivated, and the training can actually be lots of fun. Train with a friend and/or use the race as an excuse to explore different neighborhoods. Use interval training to get a personal best time. I find signing up for a race extremely motivating. I like having a goal to work towards. If I am signed up for a race I am much less likely to skip a workout. I don't want it to be race day and for me not to be able to complete the distance. Crossing the finish line creates feelings of exhilaration, empowerment and catharsis. I highly recommend trying it.
Since I compete in triathlons, I usually do the below interval workouts while running or cycling outside, but you can use any cardio machine you like. To avoid getting bored, try mixing up the machine you use. One day do intervals on the bike. Another day run outside, swim or roller blade!
Workout #1 — Easy Pick-Ups
Warm-up for five minutes. Do 10 minutes at your regular speed (and regular level if you are on a machine like the elliptical that has levels). Then, cycle through the following pattern for 10 minutes: alternate 30 seconds at regular speed, 20 seconds slightly faster and 10 seconds fast. Finish with five to 15 minutes of cardio at your regular speed and level. Cool down for five minutes.
Workout #2 — Pyramid Intervals
Warm-up for five minutes. Do one minute hard. One minute easy. Two minutes hard. Two minutes moderate. Three minutes hard. Three minutes moderate. Four minutes hard. Four minutes moderate. Five minutes hard. One minute easy. Five minutes hard. Cool down for five to 10 minutes.
Workout #3 – Mini Pick-Ups
Warm-up for five minutes. Do five minutes at regular speed. Alternate 15 seconds hard with 45 seconds moderate for 10 minutes. Recover for two minutes. Then, repeat the intervals by alternating 15 seconds hard with 45 seconds at regular speed. Cool down for five to eight minutes.
Workout #4 – the "Brick" Workout
A 'brick' workout is where you do two different activities back to back with no rest. As a triathlete I do brick workouts that combine swimming and biking or biking and running. You can use any piece of equipment. For example, use the rower and then the treadmill.
The Brick Part 1:
20 minutes on any piece of equipment. Warm-up for five minutes. Do 10 minutes at the hardest intensity you can hold for the entire 10 minutes. Finish with five minutes of moderate intensity cardio.
The Brick Part 2:
As soon as you finish the above workout, start your second activity. Do five minutes of moderate work. Then, do 10 minutes at the hardest intensity you can hold for the entire 10 minutes. Finish with five minutes of light cardio to cool down.
Make a Personal Action Plan
To use the above interval workouts as part of your training routine, first pick the distance you want to complete. Then pick the date and location of the race so you can plan your training program appropriately. Let's say you want to complete a 10km race. Plan to train three times per week. Once a week do a long run that progressively increases in distance. Your long run should start at about 6 km and work up to 10 km. Your second weekly run should be an easy 5 km run. Your third weekly run should be one of the interval workouts outlined above. It should be between 4 km and 8 km. Lastly, don't forget to have fun!
Kathleen Trotter, MS (Exercise Science), BA (Honours) is an ironman competitor, personal trainer and writer. She is passionate about fitness and health and trains a wide variety of clients ranging from the avid athlete to individuals living with osteoporosis, Parkinson's and scoliosi. For more great articles and fitness tips visit: www.kathleentrotter.com and join Kathleen's newsletter.