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A running tip to kill boredom and unwanted fats

Anurban-life classic is picking up exercising (usually with a diet program) as aNew Year resolution and calling it quits before end-February. I previouslytalked about running becoming trendy.Unfortunately, giving up running (because of not achieving aims) is quitetrendy also. 

Accordingto USA 2011 state of the sport report, the second popular motivation for running is weight concernsand around 75% of respondents run to “stay in shape”. As a recreational runner,I can only talk about a little tip that helped me kill three birds with onestone: 1) losing body-fat (and weight), 2) run faster (improving my marathontime), 3) last, but not least: made running less boring. Of course, the usualdisclaimer applies: this is something that worked for me: Adding intervalrunning to my routine.  

Mostpeople believe in running constantly at low intensity to burn fat. Last week, Isaw a (fit) friend of mine told me he runs one hour three times a week, but heis running 8.5km (and I am sure he was capable of doing 11-12km per hour). Thiswas the way of work-out that I was practicing with in my preparation for myfirst marathon. It is boring, routine and does not get you any faster as youare not pushing your body. The problem with running at low intensity - lowheart-rates is once the exercise is over, you are almost unplugging themetabolism’s fatburn rate. Embrase running in intervals to keep the fat burningmode “ON”.  

Intervalrunning is an alternative that capitalizes on running in high intensityrepetitions with low intensity recovery periods in between. It allows afterburnor with its technical name, EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. You can google or click the links forscientific information on high-intensity interval training. I read spinning burns 150 more calories in the next fewhours post-exercise and for running numbers vary from 35 to 250 calories.  

Thepicture shows Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4-HourBody, his second book after The 4-HourWorkweek. The first time I heard about afterburn was in “ which is like aChoose-your-own-adventure book for the human body. It is a good read.  

Intervalrunning helped me taking out some of the routine from the exercise especiallyduring the boring treadmill sessions (a part of my life, thanks to Londonweather). Depending on your level, you can slowly build interval running.Example, a 30 minute run, you can start with a warm-up at 9km/hr for the first6 minutes, then run for 3 minutes at 11-11.5km/hr, one or two minutes recovery(say at 9km/hr), repeat it four times, and finish off with last five minutes atan average pace - say 9.5km/hr. You can play around with the duration and pace.Running outside, you can do a similar exercise with time, such as an easy runfor 5 minutes, followed by  3minute sprints and 2 minute recoverysessions. As you get better, you can increase the duration, hold your fastsessions (or even go running “eyes-out”). Check out the video on the linkshowing Brad Pitt on atreadmill (from Burn AfterReading) on how NOT to do interval running. 

The beautyof interval training is it is a gradual process where you build upconsistently. You get faster without noticing, you burn more fat withoutnoticing and you earn those post-exercise treats. I, personally have  asoft spot for baklava, dark chocolate coated Turkish delight and milk chocolate coated Brazilian nuts. Running intervals allow me stick to theselittle guilty pleasures of life. In fact, treadmill running when coupled with abit of an increase your protein intake could work wonders in fat-burning.  

As everyrose has its thorn, interval running needs to be treaded carefully. It is not asubstitute for constant-pace runs, but more of a complement. It is generallynot recommended to do more than two interval sessions in a week. In myexperience, it comes with two downsides. First, there is a risk of overdoing it(either by going too fast too soon or exploiting body limits too early).Secondly, you get more injury-prone if you move on too quickly. I can get awaywithout stretching in the constant slower runs, but with intervals nostretching will almost always catch up to you in form of muscle pain. I can’tstress the importance of post-run stretching or getting an occasional sports massage if you wish to take on intervaltraining.  Happy and healthy running.

The picture shows the another goodfriend for the recreational runner: foam rollers. They are helpful forstretching and post-workout-self-massage. You will possibly need them if youdecide that interval training is for you. 

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