Shorter workouts in winter can help maintain, lose weight

One month ago I contacted fellow ChicagoNow blogger Tracie Danielson Mitchell to ask a exercise related question.  That inquiry led to a new workout to incorporate in my exercise routine.  She recommended I try this routine.

In a nutshell, I was going to do the following routine when I run:

Warm up for 5 to 15 minutes
1-minute sprint
1 minute easy
90-second sprint
1 minute easy
2-minute sprint
2 minutes easy
90-second sprint
2 minutes easy
1-minute sprint

She suggested 5 to 10 intervals 3 times a week.  I’ve done intervals before — we call it speed work in the running community — and I know that I would have to build up to three times a week.  I wondered if this workout was designed to be done on a treadmill.  Since I prefer to run outside I asked Traci what she thought.  She suggested using city blocks instead of time as my gauge.  run three blocks at a comfortable pace, run one block hard (repeat x 10…since they’re short intervals).

In the month since our conversation, I’ve done this workout 8 times over 4 weeks and if my bathroom scale is accurate (it isn’t’) I’ve lost 4 pounds.  Or more correctly, my weight has bobbled up and down 4 lbs.  I have a very unscientific theory that the winter months are the hardest to lose weight because we’re designed to store fat for the winter.   On top of that, we go to all these holiday parties and eat sugar laden foods and drink calorie laden alcoholic drinks…just like our cavemen ancestors!

Here’s what I learned using this workout along with some tips:

1)  Of those 8 workouts, I did one on the Dreadmill and found that it didn’t seem like a quality enough workout to me.  That could be my own treadmill bias or it could be that it is just harder to sprint on a treadmill.

2)  It is up to you to figure out what your “easy” and “sprint” paces are.  Consistency is the key because goal is for your 5th sprint to be within 10 seconds of your first sprint pace.  being the geek I am, I used my Garmin to record the splits each time i switched between sprint and easy.  I found that my splits were more consistent after doing this routine a few times. Garmin Intervals


3)  It helps to have a piece of paper with the workout typed out on it.  Don’t sweat it if you sprint for 75 instead of 90 seconds but don’t cut your easy interval short to make up the time.

4)  If you add it up, it comes to 13 minutes of intervals along with a 5-15 minute warmup.  you should also do a cool down.  So you’re talking about a 20-30 minute workout plus cool down.  In other words, this is a very easy workout to fit into your day (though it’s not necessarily an easy workout!)

5)  When you first start doing these intervals, it’s okay to walk one of the easy leg, especially the last two minute one.  When running outside it’s a good opportunity to tightened your tights, tie your shoes, blow your nose and check in with your body.

BTW: the original question I asked about:

Me:  I suspect everyone’s mileage may vary but would you say generally speaking, a person will burn more calories in a 40 minute run than a 20 minute run with the caveat that the longer run is done at a slower pace?

Traci Danielson Mitchell:  If you take one person and had them run at 40 min, then again at 20 min at the same PACE, they’d burn more in 40 than in 20.  If the 20 minute run was significantly faster than the pace of the 40 minute run, then PER MINUTE, the faster run will burn more.
However, the best bet is to run fast for 20 than run slow for 40 – maybe you won’t burn as many calories, but you’ll increase HGH, boost your metabolism and burn more fat. Does that make sense?

sure does.


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Filed under: Marathon Monday

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