And make that sauce tabasco by adding sprints intervals to that same mundane route you’ve been monotonously slaving away on. It’s something different, a change of scenery if you will. This article is about running and as an out-of-action enthusiast, I am writing this whilst slowly dipping into a pit of frustration.
Anyhow, enough about me (fascinating as I am) and more about my experience. I had a certain running route that had served me so well for so long. It was short and intense – sort of how I like my women – and normally took it out of me, then things got different; I really fancied a change of pace, almost like my body was…bored – shock, right? So, me being me, I had a brainwave and decided to incorporate sprints. I felt great. The quality of my runs improved, I got faster, my body felt tighter and harder and it slotted in just fine with the weight lifting I’d recently added to my fitness arsenal.
I only really got bored of running on a physical level, never a mental one. However, if this is you and you start to feel as though you could do with something new, add the sprints. A change in pace means a new challenge – a harder one (her words not mine). It gives you something to aim for and a different goal each run; you end up becoming more and more motivated to do well, and then you start to grow wings and suddenly the road becomes a runway and next thing you know you’re a flying death machine with the confidence of an AC-130 after a 19 kill streak. Perhaps that was somewhat exaggerated, but you get the jist – you should do after that legendary piece of lyricism. This mentality is great for those doing timed runs because you’re more likely to go in for the kill with the goal of a PR every time. You’re also less at risk of overuse injury because you’re utilising different muscles, or the same ones in a completely different way.
The ducking and diving (from me) in intensity is something your body will thank you for; it wants, it needs to be thrown off course and surprised in order for it to grow. The same improvements are great for athletic performance because they’re more abundant than they would be if you were sticking to regular running. A plateau will likely be postponed, too; it’ll take your body much longer to get used to this than the majority of steady state exercises.
Unfortunately, this isn’t one for the beginners. I say this because, as a new starter, you may pull muscles that aren’t yet used intensity full stop, let alone anything of this caliber. The same goes for the movements involved, too. When I started I had to take days off and go for walks instead due to the toll it took on my hamstrings. Naturally I got stronger, but as an elite athlete (hmm) I recommend you have a basic level of fitness before embarking on this spiritual journey. Something I would recommend for beginners, however, is moving faster at certain points in their runs as opposed to sprinting hard up hills.
For my more advanced readers, I’d start by looking at your current route and singling out 3 or 4 stretches of both flat and hilly areas and sprint these when you’re next out on the roads. What I can’t stress enough is to take recovery seriously – this is hard. Don’t be afraid to take a day to go for a walk or hit an upper body workout, or just throw in another rest day. The last thing you want is to be injured before you’ve even started…that’s like dropping your ice cream after a lick or two…do you know how painful that is? Traumatic. Anyway, back to business; you need to be going full out and challenging yourself, which, as a runner, is something you might be somewhat familiar with. Interval training also works well in tandem with weight training because you’re also working the anaerobic system, as you would be whilst pumping iron. I preferred to keep things short and intense when I did this and I would recommend the same, but you’re welcome to try working it into a longer route.
Overall, intervals training is more of a challenge because it has you working harder, and when you work harder the gains come in quicker. It also burns more calories in the same – or even less – time as a normal run, so you’re getting more of a bang for your buck. You’re also tapping into more than one component of fitness so you’re improving in more areas than one aaaand most importantly, you’re probably having more fun, too.
I’d normally take one or two lines to say something very witty or motivational here, but this rather irrelevant sentence is all you’re getting today.