Category Archives: Health

High Intensity Interval Training – Explained

This morning I woke up early to 2 cups of coffee and some blog posts to read.

 

 It is, if you can't move without it.

It is, if you can’t move without it.

 

Went to the gym for a treadmill run and some swimming.

Today’s treadmill workout was a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) run.

HIIT is by far the hardest running workout I have ever done, however, it works.  If you want to get faster/stronger/run longer (even at a slower pace), this is the workout for you.

I have a love/hate relationship with HIIT because on the one side it is a tough workout, but on the other side the sense of accomplishment I get when I’m done and my legs are shaking and I’m about to faint, is unbeatable.  I know I sound like a masochist.  But like I said, it works.  And later down the road, when a pace that seemed impossible to hold for more than 30 seconds (or to even get there!) you can suddenly keep for 10 minutes, then you know you did something right.  Tough work pays off.

 

WHAT IS HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training is a type of workout (in this case running, but can be any other type of aerobic activity) that consists of short bouts of faster running, with rest periods in between each bout.

 

BENEFITS OF HIIT:

  • Run faster
  • Get stronger
  • Build aerobic fitness
  • Increase mental focus for hard running
  • Very efficient workout in a shorter amount of time
  • Teach your body how to run and hold different paces

This too:

hiit

 

HOW TO DO A HIIT WORKOUT:

Keeping in mind the basics of short bouts of faster running with rest periods in between, you can basically do it any way you want.

I do 4 different types of HIIT, alternating one HIIT workout each week (so it takes me 4 weeks to do all 4 types).

Always start with a warm up, I do 5 minutes walking and 10 minutes light running.

hiit workouts

Do these workouts so you can run as fast her:

 I dunno, she seems to be running fast

I dunno, she seems to be running fast

 

WHEN TO DO A HIIT WORKOUT:

Because High Intensity Interval Training is hard on your body, once a week is more than enough for this type of workout.  I usually do HIIT after a rest day, so my legs are as recovered as possible.

images

 

I Have No Running Goals

So there.

goal

Sounds like fun, actually.

No goals, just do whatever I feel like.

calvin

I’ve read so many blog posts and articles about running goals for 2014, and that’s great.  I’m sure a lot of people are going to make a lot of progress working towards them.

I want to make progress too.  The thing is, whenever I have a specific target in mind I try too hard to make it happen.  So it becomes a chore, a job, a responsibility.

I love running.

It makes me happy.

It makes me feel strong.

And healthy.

And careless.

And like I can do absolutely anything I set my mind to.

I truly love it.

So I want to keep enjoying it.

No goals. No PRs to set, no specific races or number of races to run, no magic weekly km/mile number to accomplish.

Whatever comes my way, I’ll take it.

Feel

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  MAY YOUR YEAR BE FILLED WITH LOTS OF HAPPY RUNNING!

 

Race Recap – Holon Run 10K

I live in Holon, Israel, so it was only fitting that my first race was in my own city.  Once a year the city organizes this race around the months of October or November, and this year it was on November 22nd and organized by a charity organization.

38683_elem_merutz_Baner980x160

I was extremely nervous before the race.  I tried to take it easy and think of it as just one more run (I’ve done so many on those same streets), especially the days coming up to the race.

But I found myself constantly thinking of what I would eat, how I would organize myself (what to take with me, what to wear, when to wake up, etc.), and what time would I run… had no idea how running with so many people around me could affect me.

 RRRIIIIIIIIGGGHHHTTTTT!!!

RRRIIIIIIIIGGGHHHTTTTT!!!

On training runs I usually do 10K around the 48:00-50:00 minute range, so I was hoping for at least that time, but I was afraid the crowds and turns would slow me down… or on the contrary, the energy and an ‘extra’ race effort could put me at a better time than that.. no way of knowing.  But hey, your first race is only once.

The race started at 08:00 AM, meeting time was from 06:30.  I figured I’d get there early, to get a good parking spot, go to the bathroom, warm up, whatever.

 I still look pretty happy here...

I still look pretty happy here…

I wore Brooks Pure Cadence 2 purple shoes, compression socks, longish running short tights, and an Athleta top.  Nike running glasses that have seen better times.   Need new ones, add that to my list.

 No clue what happened to that right lens.. sun damage?

No clue what happened to that right lens.. sun damage?

20 minutes before start time I went for a 5 minute walk and 10 minute run, my usual warm up, and got in line for start with about 5 minutes to spare.  Not bad, I didn’t want to stand there for too long but also didn’t want to risk being rushed, 5 minutes was perfect.  Ate a GU gel, stood around, and off we went.

 I'm there.. somewhere...

I’m there.. somewhere…

Well… who told me a common rookie mistake was to go out way too fast?  Oh yeah, everyone told me that.  So I guess I shouldn’t beat myself up for having done just that… first 2 KM were at 04:15 min/km (06:51 min/mile), I don’t think I ever even run that fast in my life, no training runs, no running away from a wild bear or a scary person, nothing.  I was on fire!  And then I was baked, about half way.  It wasn’t pretty.  Thought of quitting, but of course I kept going.

Finish line: not much left in the tank
Finish line: not much left in the tank

Finish time 46:03.

Average Pace 04:36 min/km (07:24 min/mile).

14/317 women, 10/178 category, 240/1397 overall.

(5K time was 21:58, see what I mean?  Oh well, there’s always next time).

Bottom line, I loved the experience.  Can’t wait for more races.

Looking Forward to Rest Day

After Friday’s long run I should have taken it easy on Saturday, but I didn’t .

funny-couch-resting-tired

I usually go to Spinning class on Saturday at 09:00 AM, but am at the gym by 08:00, when it opens, to do a light run on the treadmill or some strength.

This Saturday was a bit different, I found myself awake at around 05:00, I guess my body is used to this from midweek early runs.  Drank two big hot cups of coffee in the almost dark (except for the kitchen light and computer screen), and had a homemade granola bar, my usual breakfast.

coffee

My best friends at 5:00 AM, computer and coffee.

I went for a short run outside at about 07:00, it was supposed to be a short tempo run, 15 minutes warm up and another 25 minutes at 04:48 min/km (07:43 min/mile), but those 25 minutes ended up being 04:39 min/km (07:29 min/mile).  I know that may not seem like too much of a difference to some… but it felt like quite a difference to me, especially on tired legs.  Not sure why it happened, I guess the breeze, and the cold, and the music, are to blame.  See what I mean when I say a GPS watch would help me pace myself better?  Truth is I enjoy running as fast as I can manage, but I know not every run is supposed to be fast, and I do try to keep balance.  20% fast running / 80% regular/slow running, on a weekly average.

80 Bad

I sat in my car for a few minutes after the run, waiting for the gym to open, drinking grape flavored NUUN (NOT my favorite flavor at all), and when the gym opened I did about 45 minutes of strength training and an hour of spin class.  Yes, I was beat when it was over.

 This picture is from a couple months ago, but that's me with the white/grey top.

This picture is from a couple months ago, but that’s me with the white/grey top.

So for the first time in quite a while I was looking forward to my Sunday rest day.  Do whatever, but go easy on my L-E-G-S!

sitting birds

I take two rest days a week from running but one of those days I swim for 75 minutes so only one true rest day a week.

How many rest days do you take?  Do you avoid doing anything strenuous on those days?

Running Tips

I want to share with you some of the things that have really helped me improve my running in the past year.  I know the internet is full of tips and advise (and thanks for that!) but personally I have really enjoyed reading what average runners had to say via blogs and message boards, it makes it more relateable for me.

So if you are hoping to start running more and/or faster, some of these tips may help you.

Out of shape

We’ve all been here, am I right…

1) PROPER FORM: Some big contenders for first place, but in my opinion the most important thing to keep in mind is proper form.  No matter how fast or slow you run, how many miles, or what your running goals are for the future, as long as you are running with the correct form you will be able to avoid injury and move forward your goals.

Running Form

And a very interesting (short) article on the subject:

http://running.competitor.com/2013/06/training/the-five-most-common-running-form-mistakes_48731/1

2) GRADUAL INCREASE: Another big one.  Yes, we’ve heard it before a million times, but that’s because it’s so true.  No matter where you currently are in your running, increasing your distance/speed gradually is not only the best way to see actual results, but to avoid injury.  Nothing to set you back like a month of not running because of injury.

 Soon enough you'll be where you want to be

Soon enough you’ll be where you want to be

Increase distance by 10% weekly, and don’t run hard two days in a row.  I love the ‘hard day, easy day’ rule, even those weeks where I run a few days in a row, I always alternate between easy runs and hard runs.

increasing-mileage-safely-01

3) TRAIN SMART: There are a lot of training plans online, for free or for a fee, that can help you achieve your goals.  I ran for years, always at the same level of effort and usually twice a week for a total weekly distance of 15 KM / 9 MILES.  So no wonder I wasn’t seeing any progress.  Eventually when I started running more and reading more on proper training I realized that I had to do things a better way.  Not only increase my weekly distance but mainly adding different kinds of runs to my training.

Run

It took me some time but I got to where I’m now, running 5 times a week, about 60 KM / 37 MILES, and doing a different run every time (during a week period): a long run, an interval run (short bouts of running at a higher speed than the rest of my runs, an easy (recovery) run, a tempo run, and a fartlek run (longer intervals, not as fast as the short intervals).

4) RUNNING GEAR: There’s a lot of hype about running/fitness gear, you may love it or not..  I do enjoy all the options and pretty colors and designs of running gear.  But “pretty” and “fashion” aside, there is actual benefit to owning a few pieces of good running gear.

runningclothes

  • Running shoes: The most important piece of running gear you need, you must have shoes that fit YOU right.
  • Running clothes: A few basics, sweat wicking, cool for summer (shorts and short sleeve/no sleeve top), warm (but light) for winter (tights and long sleeve top), running socks (totally worth the investment!), and if you are a woman a supportive/non-chafing sports bra and strong hair bands.
  • Music: Personally I can’t move without music.  The day my Ipod battery dies in the middle of my run is the day I stop running in the middle of my run
  • Watch: you can buy a GPS watch with/without a heart monitor, but even a regular digital watch to keep track of your time is useful, you can then figure out your speed based on how much you run (google maps measuring distance tool).  You can do most of this with your phone too, although I personally like to run as light as possible and don’t usually have my phone with me.
original

Really, you don’t need that many.

5) BEFORE AND AFTER: Like running is not hard enough or time consuming enough… but yes, you must do before and after care.

Before: some people stretch, some people don’t.  I don’t, but always start with a warm-up of 5 minutes walking and 10 minutes of slow running.  Trust me, I hate every minute of it, I don’t like running so slow or walking during training, and I’m in enough of a hurry to move on with my day, but it’s a necessary evil.

After: stretch, stretch, stretch!  I’ve also started foam rolling a few months ago and love it.  Sorry I meant to say I hate it, but it works so at least I love that.

 Keep your friends close and your enemies closer I guess..

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer I guess..

6) CROSS TRAIN: Now some people don’t have a problem with this and actually love doing other things other than running, and some people just want to run-run-run!  I might go into full running mode but I’m too afraid of getting injured or losing the strength that cross training gives me.  I think the smart move is to keep doing other things besides running, especially strength training and another form of aerobic exercise (elliptical, zumba, biking/spinning, swimming, to name a few).

funny-fitness-cartoons

7) WATCH YOUR NUTRITION: I’m going to keep it short on this one because it’s such a huge subject I don’t want to get into.. so let’s just put it this way: to run your best you have to give your body the best nutrition you can get for it to be healthy and strong.  Whatever that means to you, go ahead and make it happen.

veggie-funny
Well? Go eat your veggies!

8) REST: We all need our ZZZ’s to function as best as we can.  A bad night’s sleep means a bad morning run, for sure (if you even make it out the door).  So for the sake of running, your health, your mood, and everyone around you: get the sleep you need.  For me it’s 7 hours a night although I usually get about 6 or 6 and a half hours.

tired or bad mood

Hope you had a great run during the weekend!