I’m training for the Tough Gal Challenge at the end of the month. I’ve done it before and running around muddy fields, traipsing through cold water and getting decorated by dirt is much more fun than it sounds. I’m doing the 6km course which isn’t too much of a stretch. Even though I’m slow, I can run 5km without needing to stop (most of the time). Throw in the muddy meanderings, however, and the race gets a little harder. So I’ve been training and have discovered my new exercise obsession in the meantime – interval training. Here are the five things I’ve learned so far about interval training.
1. What is it? Exercise (running in my case) where you alternate between high intensity and low intensity. I’ve been doing 25 minutes on the gym treadmills, alternating between walking and jogging and walking and sprinting (one minute of each, then I step it up a notch and only walk for 30 seconds in between runs) There are heaps of different ways to do it and some maniacs even add in burpees, squats, lunges etc to keep things interesting.
2. Why is it good for you? You can read all about the science behind interval running in this Women’s Health article, but basically the high intensity part of the exercise snaps your body out of ‘cruise control’ and forces it to burn more calories to get the activity done. My gym instructor says interval training is great for improving your distance running too.
3. Why do I love it? I’ve never felt like time on the treadmill was flying by, but when you focus on each minute (or half minute) the time goes really quickly. I have achieved way more doing interval running because I just need to last one more minute and there’s a rest, then I can get my head around the next minute of intense running.
4. How do I fit it in? I’ve committed to doing three interval running sessions a week and while that is added to my regular gym classes, home DVDs, outside runs and walks etc, it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Now I put a 25 minute interval session after a gym class or I go just for the interval training and I only lose 35 minutes out of my night. That’s why I am so in love with this way of training – it’s perfect for people who don’t have much time on their hands!
5. Can I do it outside? Yes! Last week a friend went running by my house with her double buggy and two kids and a big smile on her face. She was using her iPhone and The Couch-to-5k app – interval training on your smartphone! You can also print out a plan and time yourself – I’ve got a few on Pinterest which will keep things fresh and interesting. One day I hope to be one of those maniacs ‘burping’ in the middle of my interval training. Yeeeeeeha.