Friday, June 22, 2012

Fat Butt Friday: Interval Training, the Key to Speed

A couple months ago, I made the goal to be able to run 2 miles in 20 minutes.  To many of you fast runners, that is nothing, but for someone like me that is still new to running and been overweight most of my life, a 10 minute mile is a fantastic goal!  I have never been able to run the mile in less than 11:30 though... and that was before I got pregnant with Jake and was 30 pounds lighter than I am now.

As I have been running around, I have found myself getting frustrated at my speed.  Sure, I have been building up endurance and have been able to run farther, but my speed hasn't gone up.  I couldn't figure it out and it was driving me crazy.  So here I am at 220 pounds struggling to run any faster than 4 miles an hour.

I decided to swallow my pride and ask Ben for help.

"Ben, I need some help.  I have to get my speed up and it isn't going up!  I thought once I lost weight I would get faster, but my weight does not want to get under 220 and it's driving me crazy!  What can I do to get my speed up and push myself a little harder?"  I thought he was just going to say, "just try running faster."  But he didn't.  Without even pausing, he said: "You need to run intervals."

"What's that?" I asked thinking it sounded really hard and technical.

"It's where you run as fast as you can for a certain amount of time and then walk for the same.  Just keep doing it over again for a certain amount of time. It will help get your speed up."

Okay, first of all, for some reason, that sounded like a load of garbage.  I cannot think for the life of me how  running as fast as you can for a minute or so and then start walking can really help your speed.  BUT I was willing to try anything new... besides if it didn't work, I could always say "told you so!"

That night, Ben went over to the gym with me to show me that I can set the treadmill to do intervals, then I wouldn't have to be thinking of timing myself and all that.  He showed me how to set the program to my own walk speed, which is 3.3 miles an hour, then since I had been running my miles at 4.0, he told me to put my fast speed at 5.0.  Then set the program for 20 minutes.  This put me walking for 2 minutes then running for 2 minutes.  Well, I wasn't too pleased at first with the idea of wasting my gym time on this... mainly, because I knew I wasn't going to be able to get my three miles in doing this kind of running.  BUT Ben assured me, that it was an investment for later.  Okay, whatever.

So I started my walk.  Then when it hit the 2 min mark, not only did the treadmill speed up, but it start elevating!!!  What the heck, I almost flew off the back!  Ben started laughing at me and said, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you that the program does that..."  He totally did NOT forget... he just wanted to see me react when it started going up.

Okay, after like 5 sec I thought I was going to die!!  That was the LONGEST 2 minutes of my life!!!  Then I got to walk... then I had the next longest 2 minutes of my life!

I couldn't do it after like the 3rd time.  I had to slow the speed down.  I was angry at the training.  I was angry at Ben for tricking me.  I was angry that I only had a mile and half to show for all my hard work.  And I was angry that I failed.  My anger made me challenge myself though.  I was going to do this interval program ALL THE WAY through!  And I was going to do it by the end of the week!  So every night I popped over to the gym and worked through the program.  The next night, I ate pizza for dinner and it wasn't being very forgiving and I cramped up super bad.  So night 2 was a complete bust.  Night 3 sucked too.  But finally night 4 started picking up and by night 5 I was able to run the whole interval program without stopping, changing the speed or changing the elevation!!  Sure, I didn't get all the miles I wanted too, but I took on a fitness monster and kicked his trash!

This week, I wanted to do my running again, then if I felt that they helped, next week I will work again on intervals and do an every other week sort of thing.  So last night, I popped onto the treadmill.  Okay, I told myself, the week before intervals I could only run a mile at 4 miles per hour.  This time I am going to start at 5 miles per hour and see if I can run the whole mile at that speed.  And guess what?  I did it!!!  I went up a whole mile per hour in one week doing intervals!!!  Ben was right!  Then in my last min I pumped up the speed to 6 miles an hour and then I even felt brave to go to 7 the last 30 sec.  My short legs were flying, but I did it!!!  I couldn't be more pleased with myself in overcoming that "speed bump".  I beat my best 1 mile time by 6 seconds... and that last fast time was BEFORE I got pregnant. I actually beat my best time being 30 pounds heavier... That rocks!!

This is going to be a great week!! (And I just know I am going to be super speedy when Ben comes home... it's going to blow his mind!)


Here's to a happy active week!!

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The Carpenters said...

Let me just say that I feel super cool watching those miles jump up every week!

Damaris said...

I'm going to have to give that interval training a try. I've been having the same problem. I'm training for a half and I figured I'd get faster as I went along. NOPE! I've built endurance, but my speed has just dropped as I've picked up miles. Yup, definitely going to have to try that.

The monkey bunch said...

intervals actually burn a lot more calories than regular running does, also! I hate intervals, but they really do work. If you really want to increase your speed that much, you should have one or two interval days a week. BTW, popped over to your blog from Life lessons of a military wife. Hope you don't mind me poking around.

Ariana said...

Interval training definitely works! I need to start doing that again. (It also sound a lot prettier than "Fartleks."

Ariana said...


Life Lessons of a Military Wife said...

Poke around at will! I enjoy reading your blog, and maybe it'll get me to get off my butt too!

Heidi said...

You rock! Way to go on tackling the intervals. I did them before bay #2. From where I first heard about it they said to do 5 minutes warm up, 4 minutes fast, 1 minute walk, 4 minutes faster, 1 minute walk, 4 minutes fastest, and then 5 minute cool down; total of 24 minute workout. It's a good workout, I just couldn't ever really get past fast into the faster and fastest speeds, but I did what I could and it helped. :)