Interval Training = Faster. Stronger.

STRONGER. FASTER.
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Interval Training is the name of the game for those of you runners who are looking to set new PRs in upcoming running races! The new Trek Express class on Thursday nights will help you incorporate interval and speed work into your weekly workouts. There are also several treadmill workouts listed on the my Pinterest board that you can do at the gym or at home.

Interval training has been used by athletes for years to build fitness. Interval training combines short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phases, repeated during one exercise session. An early form of interval training, “Fartlek” (a Swedish term meaning ‘speed play’) was casual and unstructured. A runner would simply increase and decrease his pace at will.

How Interval Training Works

Interval training works both the aerobic and the anaerobic system. During the high intensity efforts, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen) for short bursts of activity. Anaerobic metabolism works without oxygen, but the by-product is lactic acid. As lactic acid builds, the athlete enters oxygen debt, and it is during the recovery phase that the heart and lungs work together to “pay back” this oxygen debt and break down the lactic acid. It is in this phase that the aerobic system is using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy. It’s thought that by performing high intensity intervals that produce lactic acid during practice, the body adapts and burns lactic acid more efficiently during exercise. This means athletes can exercise at a higher intensity for a longer period of time before fatigue or pain slows them down.

The Benefits of Interval Training

Interval training adheres to the principle of adaptation. Interval training leads to many physiological changes including an increase in cardiovascular efficiency (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. These changes result in improved performance, greater speed, and endurance. Interval training also helps avoid injuries associated with repetitive overuse, common in endurance athletes. Intervals also allow an athlete to increase training intensity without overtraining or burn-out. Adding intervals to a workout routine is also a great way add cross training to an exercise routine.

No matter what the addition of interval workouts will likely improve your overall fitness. Just be sure to use common sense and start slowly at a level that is commensurate with your current fitness ability and:

Warm Up before starting intervals
Assess current conditioning and set training goals that are within your ability
Keep a steady, but challenging pace throughout the interval
Build the number of repetitions over time
To improve, increase intensity or duration, but not both at the same time
You can also use circuit training as a form of interval training

The information above is adopted from Active.com

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A Killer Treadmill Workout

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With temperatures at -16 degrees today the treadmill is the only option! This is the treadmill interval workout we used at our big New Year’s Day event! It is a butt-kicker but will make the 35 minutes fly by!

Thinking of Doing a DU?

2012-10-07JustDuItpic (1)If you are like most people you may find the idea of a triathlon intimidating because of the swim portion.  There is something very scary about an open water swim if you do not consider yourself  the equivalent of Michael Phelps.  For most of the population an open water swim with hundreds of other people is terrifying.

 

ENTER: the duathlon.  All the fun and none of the fright

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2012 Northern Grrrl Finishers at Iron Girl- Bloomington!

Do not confuse a duathlon with a biathlon (the Olympic term for skiing and shooting at the same time).  A duathlon is a run-bike-run combination and they vary in length from short to ultra distances.  Duathlons are growing in popularity and popular events series like the Iron Girl have added them to their line-ups.  The Iron Girl- Bloomington duathlon is one of my favorite annual “must do” events!

How do you train for a duathlon?

Good news… if you can run and bike you can complete a duathlon.  I have found at many of the duathlons there is not any rule to the kind of bike and gear you need.  You need a bike- be it a cruiser, mountain bike, or road bike, running shoes, and a helmet.  Some  basic bike maintenance knowledge is helpful in case you get a flat, but there are always support vans on the course too just in case!

As with any event you do need to train.  The kind of training will depend on the length of the duathlon course.  A 12-week training program such as this one will get you started, but as with any new training program be sure to get the A-OK from your physician.  To train properly you should plan to spend 9-12 hours per week to training.  This is only a recommended amount of training time- depending on where you fall in the fitness spectrum you may need more or less. Strength training, over the winter months will also be beneficial to your overall fitness.

This is also an excellent link for a  beginner training plan.  You will begin to get the idea as you look through these.  Don’t get caught up in the message boards about  expensive gear and what you will need unless you plan to try to place in your age group or will be aggressively racing.  Just have fun with it.  The ladies I have trained for the duathlon have loved every minute of the race and it really is for anyone.  I think I love the Athleta Iron Girl Series so much because it is overflowing with positive inspiring women of all ages and abilities.

SO GO DU IT!