Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Intervals

Today I did my first interval workout.  And my second. Unfortunately, that probably will not be my last.

What is interval training you might ask?  Basically, you do varying levels of resistance/speed for specifed intervals of either time or distance.  You go all out, then you recover.  Rinse and repeat. In short, intervals suck.  Running or biking at a constant speed allows you to get into a groove.  If I have a relative athletic strength it is endurance - finding a groove and staying in it for an extended period.  The point of intervals is to not let you do this.

A friend convinced me that incorporating some interval training into our running workouts might help to break the monotony during the week and improve our speed.  This friend is probably right.  The same person also convinced me that starting this program today at 6:30 am would be a good idea.  At about 6:45 I was not in agreement.  We ran two consecutive ladder workouts - sprint intervals that got consistently longer in distance with short recovery periods in between, the back down the "ladder" (and back up and down). 

The local bike shop started their free indoor group rides for the winter tonight.  Every Tuesday and Thursday you can show up at closing time with your bike and trainer, and ride indoors to a training video with a group of people.  I convinced myself that this was a good idea.  Daylight savings and colder temperatures make it harder and more inconvenient to ride to work, so I thought the group effect would provide the motivation necessary to still get miles in over the winter.

Tonight we did a climb interval video led by Chris Carmichael. We started with some short all out sprint intervals.  You know, to really get the lactic acid pumping so the rest of the workout hurt more.  Then we shifted to some 5 and 10 minute climbing intervals which consisted of getting into your highest (most resistance) gear and pedaling at a low, steady cadence.  In between these climbing sections we would ride recovery intervals at high cadence.  I have to admit, while it did suck, the intervals made the hour go by a lot faster.  Staying in the same gear at the same cadence for 60 minutes makes for a long, boring workout.  It was kind of cool to have a series of goals of reaching the end of the short intervals.

Chris (I feel like we are now on a first name basis) kept telling us how this was Lance Armstrong's favorite workout.  I think my favorite workout begins at the top of a very long hill and ends at the bottom. With lots of food and cold beer.

Honestly, I did enjoy both workouts.  A change of pace is always good, and sometimes you need to changes things up and shock your body to prevent plateauing.  So while it may have seemed like I was complaining in this post, I really enjoyed the challenge and I am sure I keep these workouts up until I catch Lance in the segments of the video where they cut to old clips of the Tour de France.

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