By Dayton from SLN — One of many Running blogs on SmartLivingNetwork.com
What is Interval Training?
Running has been deemed the best physical exercise by many a health coach. How can you maximize the results from your 30 minute run?
Interval training is defined as "exercise which consists of activity at high intensity for a period of time, followed by low intensity exercise for a period of time" (intervaltraining.net) This type of training can supercharge your workout! To increase your rate of fat loss various health experts and fitness trainers agree interval training is viable option. The idea is to start your activity (running, biking, swimming etc) at a moderate or "resting" pace and work in short bursts of intensity.
Personally I like to make my first resting interval longer than the rest just to stretch out my muscles. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being asleep and 10 being at an all out sprint, you should be around a 4 or 5 for your resting intervals. After a predetermined time or distance kick it up to the highest intensity you can muster! For this part you have to be at an 11! If you are just starting your weight loss endeavor or starting to get into shape, your rest sets may be considerably longer than your intense sets. As time progresses and you start to see results, your rest time will start to go down and your intensity level will go up.
The Importance of Rest
Rest works on 2 levels in interval training. The rest sets should by no means be neglected. The purpose of resting is being able to recharge your body so you can hit the next intense set even harder. The whole point of interval training is the extreme difference between 2 sets forcing your body to adapt. The other aspect of rest is more long term. Especially because possibly half the running you are doing is sprinting, it's going to have a major impact on your body. Interval training can be done everyday, but letting it completely dominate our workout schedule can lead to things like shin splints and arch strain.
This part is really just common sense. It involves 3 simple preventative measures that can be used in any running sport or activity.
1. Wear good running shoes!
A good set of running shoes should be supportive, fit well and be designed for running. When you go shopping for shoes make sure they breathe good too, nobody wants that rotten foot smell when you take your shoe off! A good pair of shoes should fit good at the store, don't expect them to "break in". Its also a good idea to take a walk or maybe a quick jog in the shoes before you buy them.
2. Stretch People!!
Stretching is super important! Even before your stretch you might want to do a light jog. When you stretch make the most of it by focusing on the muscles you are about to work and hold the stretch for a good 10 seconds. Remember to not bounce through your stretches, make them solid and slow methodically stretching the muscle out. Its also a good practice to stretch after your interval training session. This will increase your flexibility and give you a good cool down.
3. Cross Train
This one is big especially for guys. Though I am an avid runner I still try to hit up the weight room 3 times a week. This is more productive toward the build I want and it keeps a good balance and overall fitness. If you just run all the time you will find your upper body strength lacking. Cross training can be anything from lifting weights to ice hockey, it's just something different to liven up your workout. And even with the best selection of music I have on my iPod, running can get rather boring without other stuff thrown in.
The best piece if advice you can get from this blog is to just get outside or on your treadmill and do it. You won't achieve your goals by just thinking about them. So start small and get yourself into an awesome routine! With a little bit of dedication and a good balanced diet, interval training can change your life dramatically!
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