Wow! Thursday is interval day for our lunchtime running group. My first inclination was to do hills, but then I remembered an old favorite: Tabata Sprints.
Here's the protocol:
Run at 100% effort for 20 seconds
(that's a bit longer than a football field for me)
rest for 10 seconds
Repeat for a total of 8 repetitions.
Emphasize 100% effort and be strict on the 10 seconds of rest.
It's a 4-minute all out, minimal-rest workout that will leave you grabbing your knees.
Studies have shown that this protocol alone will boost aerobic and anaerobic fitness quicker than steady-state exercise. Skeptical? Try it for yourself. Or at least google it. At a minimum, it will improve your speed. I've been doing these sporadically for over a year now, and my running has improved at all distances.
Anyway, I digress. So here was the workout today:
Jog to the park (1.5 miles)
50 air squats (body weight only)
another set of Tabata sprints.
Jog back to start (1.5 miles)
We did our sprints along the length of a very well groomed soccer field. It was so smooth -- one of the kindest running surfaces we have around town. Over the course of the workout, we did 16 lengths of that field -- or about a mile of all out sprinting. Then we walked home. Literally. We did not want to run for more than 2 blocks at a time after this one.
It was one of the hardest (and most rewarding) workouts I have done in a while, and it only lasted 45 minutes from door to door. The hard part lasted less than 20 minutes. But then there was the EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption: the part that leaves you huffing and sweating as you are changing back into your street clothes). That's all part of the protocol and one of the reasons it works. Your cardiovacular activity is elevated, as it would be in steady state running, even as you are standing in the shower. It's the same thing you might feel after a hard 5k. If you really run it hard. One of my running mates was still sweating 20 minutes after returning to the office. Tabata. EPOC. What a way to spend a lunch hour.
Run hard out there...