BGRW: Minimum Time, Maximum Results

Shannon Farrell
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Photo: Daily Makeover/Getty Images

Committing to a marathon is intimidating, but not for the reason you may think. I have already run 26.2 miles before. What scares me most is finding the time to get in the training…because when you get to the starting line, you’ve either done the work or you haven’t. And with my schedule, I need to come up with a training regimen that is beneficial but also practical.

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The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity exercise five times a week. Getting out the door for 30 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but finding five days in the week is hard to do. Edward R. Laskowski M.D. recommends 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity. Now 75 minutes, that’s doable. When trying to get in a more intense workout, it’s best to do intervals. Here’s why:

Burn More Calories
It’s pretty simple, really. Obviously you inhale oxygen for the most mundane of tasks, and when you exercise, you need more oxygen. So the faster you run, the harder your body has to work to inhale oxygen. The muscles work on overload to expend the extra energy, aka burning more calories.

Boost Metabolism
Once you stop exercising, your body requires more oxygen and calories to recover to resting levels. Because your body works harder during intervals, it takes longer to return to that resting place.

Build Endurance
Intervals increase the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles. The easier it is to get oxygen to the muscles, the longer you can work out. A main issue in endurance running is lactic acid that builds up in the muscles over an extended period of time and create that awful cramping. The more oxygen you get to the muscles, the more tolerant they are of lactic acid. So interval training eliminates that problem as well.

After getting back from a long day at the office, a quick workout is just the thing I need. And with interval training, getting outside or on the treadmill for 20 minutes is really all you need. I do intervals of one minute fast and two minutes slow, or if I’m feeling really great, I’ll do one minute on, one minute off. The key is to get into a rhythm and let your body go with it. And the best way to do that is with a stellar playlist. More on that later.

Do you think a harder workout is worth the obvious benefits? I’ll let you know if I see any changes in a few weeks.

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