Run Faster with HIIT

I know among my friends and family HIIT is not commonly discussed, and no it’s not because I hang out with fat and lazy people, or that my family is not obsessed with workouts like I am, rather HIIT is somewhat new to fitness, and most of my friends and family are of the older set, so we aren’t as “with it” if you will.

Runner’s world published a great article on incorporating HIIT and a running routine, with the concept of running faster when incorporating HIIT into your daily workouts.

While HIIT definitions vary, repeats are generally 10 to 60 seconds long, run nearly full out, and are followed by a rest period lasting one to four times the length of the effort (so you’re recovered to do the next repeat at the same speed and with good form). Researchers have found the low volume, high intensity approach of HIIT training can boost your speed and fitness. -Runner’s World

There are some disadvantages to HIIT in that injury seems to be more prevalent, but this could be due to the levels of fatigue and not having good form.  Runner’s world mentioned performing HIIT in terms of running only, but I’ve been experimenting with other forms of HIIT like P90X3 and 21 Day Fix to really get my  body ready for my long runs and I can say I have really seen a difference in my body over the last 6 months.  I used to run only as my form of exercise, and while my cardio was, and still is, strong, my body was never all that strong.  I could never do a pull up before doing P90X3, and now I can do at least 4, and can do many sets when using the pull up assist.

A lot of the studies I’ve read, or found on the web have shown that HIIT is the best form of fat burning, and maintaining muscle mass available.  And well after the exercise is completed these studies have shown that HIIT workouts burn 8-9 times more fat than normal cardio workouts.  And while HIIT burns a lot of calories during the workout, where it shines is post workout where upto 24 hours later your metabolism stays elevated, meaning more calories burned over the following 24 hours than would have been burned had you not done a HIIT workout.

Some of the benefits include

  • Burn more calories
  • Fat burning increases during and post workout
  • Metabolism stays high AFTER workout
  • Increases power
  • Shorter workouts
  • Decreases appetite
  • Increases speed
  • Increases endurance

That list alone is what swayed me to incorporate HIIT workouts, not just within running but also for more full body routines.  If I’m going to improve I need to change it up, do different workouts, confuse my muscles, and train to move fast.  I don’t want to be that slow chick in the back of the pack, I want to win my age groups as I get old, and if I want to improve and get faster, I really firmly believe HIIT is the way to do.  And to be honest HIIT is not the saving grace, it’s not the end all, you do need to have other workouts too, HIIT in moderation should be part of your workout routines.

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If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You

I saw this quote on Tumblr the other day and thought it was the perfect quote for where I am these days.  It’s a mindset that I need to maintain as I find it very easy to get into the doldrums of exercise.  Meaning I will do my workout but not even be present while working out.  My body is in it, but my head is not.  So in the end my workout was not that great, and I didn’t get much out of it as I was thinking about something else, like the laundry, or when I’m picking up DS or..or…or.   So when I saw that quote I realized I needed to work on being more present in the workout to get more out of the workout.  I needed to challenge myself more so I can see the changes I want to see.

I think part of the issue is I’ve been doing the same workouts for some time, and I really need to mix it up to see results.  My body has gotten so used to my daily 5 mile run, the same course, the same trees, that I need to either change the course up, run at a faster pace, or just completely change everything to keep my body guessing.

There is a nice nature trail near my house that I used to run all the time but haven’t done so since last summer, or it might have been 2 summers ago.  I think  I’ll starting running there.  It’s a pretty woodsy trail with some inclines, which will be great for me as I won’t be used to the trail and every once in a while I can work on intervals by sprinting to a tree and jogging to the next tree.  I need to be more focused so I can get more out of these workouts and I think this will do the trick.

I signed up for a 10 miler in July that I’m really looking forward to.  It’s a fun race that I’ve done before called “Run for the Hill Of it” which for one is the best name ever for a race and two it’s pretty tough as the last mile is on a pretty steep incline. While 10 miles is a long run, my cardio should be fine, I just need to work on my speed as I really want to beat my brother who seems to always beat me.   Yes he’s older and has usually beaten me in most races since we were kids, but a 10 miler would be the ultimate place to get a better time than him.  So I have 4 months to really tune up and get faster.

Part of my plan will also focus on nutrition, I am usually a pretty healthy eater but for this I’m going to start logging the foods I eat to make sure I’m getting enough protein and carbs.  I’ll be burning through a lot of calories and if I want to recover well I need to make sure I’m eating the right percentages of each. I’ll post more on this topic at a later date.

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My Running shoes

The Importance of Finding the Right Shoes

As an avid runner I know how important having the right shoes are for not only speed and comfort, but also for preventing injury.  If you think about it, when running or walking, or just plain standing around, you need to protect your feet, as well your entire lower body from the pounding and strain that bearing all of your weight onto your feet will cause.

I have very flat feet, and when I have the wrong shoes, or even just staying on my feet for long periods of time, my feet hurt a lot, and I tend to compensate by alternating feet, or leaning, or standing incorrectly.  When I run with old shoes, or shoes that don’t fit right, I feel a lot of knee pain the next few days.  All of these symptoms can generally be alleviated by wearing the right shoes, isn’t that nuts!

041116-mlb-madison-bumgarner-pi.vadapt.664.high.32I was reading an interesting article the other day about a major league baseball pitcher, Madison Bumgarner, who had reported having severe numbness in his foot, to the point where he was on the disabled list.  The diagnosis was Neroma which is a really serious condition that essentially thickens the nerve tissue and in terms of Madison Bumgarner he thought he had Morton’s Neroma which causes the area between the 3rd and 4th toes to go numb.  This is a very scary diagnosis and could have pulled him out of Baseball.

Luckily for Madison the story seems to have a happy ending.  During his stint on the disabled list he went looking for shoes to replace the pair he always wears.  The shoe store he went to was a store for “serious runner” so they checked his shoe size at first, when Madison asked for the shoe he wanted in a size 13 the salesmen told him he wasn’t going to give him a shoe any smaller than a 15, as a 15 would be the right size shoe to be sized correctly.   Madison up to this point had always thought he was a size 13, and always wore size 13.  This is an example of why you really do need to make sure your shoes fit correctly, and heading to a real runners store would be the right option for everyone to find the right shoes to fit your feet so you won’t get an injury while running.

Not only do I take this advice for my running shoes, of which I’ve had a number of people evaluate my feet and recommend shoes, but also for my leisure shoes as well.  It’s hard to find the right heels as they aren’t really meant for that, heels are meant to go with a dressy outfit, but I try to limit my use of heels.  For my our the neighborhood shoes I will often buy the most comfortable pair, and may even add inserts if needed to really make them even more comfortable.

Moral of the story is if you are a runner, or want to start running, please have someone evaluate your feet to help you find the right shoes.  The last thing you want is a long term injury, or to develop aches and pain that could have easily been avoided with a good pair of shoes.

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Beach Intervals

I’m away this week up in the Outer Banks, and where better to work on my beach intervals.  If you haven’t heard before, intervals are one of the best ways to work on your speed and performance, while getting a great workout.  Intervals are really timed bursts of intensity, followed by a slower pace to recover.  Simple intervals could be just sprinting to the next tree, post, bench, followed by a slower jog to the next tree, post, bench.  This type of workout works on confusing your body so it doesn’t built up a level of resistance to the workout, so you constantly see gains.  Often when you set out to run 3 miles a day, at the same pace, your body will not get much out of the workout after a few weeks.  Essentially your body builds up the muscles and cardio, so you gain less and less over time doing the same workout.

This is why intervals are key to building up endurance and improving performance.

In Shape Magazine there was an awesome interval training guide which I’ve pasted below.


1. Cardio Blaster
This is one of the best interval training workouts you can do to improve fitness. It burns lots of calories in a short amount of time.
How to do it:
•Warm up for 15 minutes.
•Then run, bike, or row for 3 minutes at 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate (should feel like 8.5 or 9 on a scale of 1 to 10). Take 3 minutes active recovery (you’re still moving, but at an easy pace) and repeat the 3 on/3 off pattern 3 to 4 more times.
•Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.
Bonus benefit: This workout is like weight training for your heart—it strengthens your cardiovascular system, which improves your overall health.

2. Speedplay
Sprinting is great for tightening and toning your legs, glutes, and core. It increases your muscle power, which helps you push harder and makes your non-interval training workouts feel easier so you can challenge yourself and burn even more calories.
How to do it:
•Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.
•Run, bike, or row for 30 seconds at a nearly all-out effort. Take 3 minutes active recovery and repeat the 30 on/3 off pattern 5 or 6 more times.
•Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.
Bonus benefit: Because of its very high intensity, this workout is very short.

3. Cardio-Sprint Pyramid
This adds sprint interval training for a fast and fun workout. Here, after each burst of hard work, you’ll recover for the same amount of time.
How to do it:
•Warm up for 15 minutes, adding a few 20-second bursts at the end to prepare for the workout.
•Run, bike, or row: During the work periods, you should have a rate of perceived exertion (RPEof 8 to 10, followed by 30 seconds of active recovery.

 Build and taper the workout like this:
30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover
1 minute sprint/1 minute recover
2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover
4 minutes sprint/4 minutes recover
2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover
1 minute sprint/1 minute recover
30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover

•Finish with a 10-minute cooldown.
Bonus benefit: This major calorie-burning interval training plan gives you the best of both worlds—high-octane cardio and muscle-sculpting sprints.

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