Top Ten Tuesdays – The Un-bookish Blogs I Read

Courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish, here are… The Top Ten Blogs I Read that are NOT Book-Related Home Decorating Blogs I start with this category because they’re the ones that got me into blogging. A friend introduced me … Continue reading

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The Power of Interval Training

Last January, I was faced with a bitter reality. After losing a fairly substantial amount of weight in 2007 (with Weight Watchers), I’d successfully committed to a healthy lifestyle change. I was still tracking my calories and working out six days/week. But somehow, ten pounds of that weight had crept back on. It was six months before my wedding, and I was the heaviest I’d been in the past four years. I was determined to make a change. (I posted more about this in this old post.)

The good news is, I ended up following through with those changes. And I’ve reaped the benefits this year. This February, I’m twenty pounds lighter than I was last February. Not only that, but my body fat percentage is no longer in the “overweight” zone… It’s not even in the “acceptable” zone… It’s in the “athletic” zone. Me?? Athletic?? Really??

One of the biggest changes I made was reinventing my workouts. With the help of a fantastic personal trainer, I developed a set of about 9 workouts that all have a common theme–intervals. Although I feel guilty sharing my actual workouts, since I paid my trainer for her advice and expertise, and don’t want to give away her hard work for free, I feel like I can give you the basis.

Each workout consists of supersets. Supersets can be done in a variety of ways, but most of mine consist of 2-3 exercises done in a mini-circuit. The exercises are done back-to-back, with as little rest in between as possible. They can be complementary muscle groups (i.e. chest/back, biceps/triceps), or two separate muscle groups (i.e. glutes/shoulders, quads/chest, hamstrings/triceps). Then, after each superset, I do a short burst of cardio (run a lap, three sets of stairs, a minute of step-ups or box jumps, etc), before the next set. I do each superset + cardio three times before moving on to the next mini-circuit. Working out this way allows me to keep my heart rate up more than traditional strength training.

The other big change I made workout-wise was moving the cardio portion to the end. Also, since my heart is pumping throughout all those supersets, I only do 10-20 minutes on the monotonous elliptical, Arc-trainer, or Stairmaster.

I truly attribute the success I had this year (health and fitness wise) to this style of working out. I didn’t really change much about the way I was eating. I was already tracking my calories and eating enough fresh produce. (Watching those late-night snacks always makes a difference in my weekly weigh-in, though.)

Anyway, I get a lot of questions about what I’ve done differently this year, and I’m happy to share. If you have any questions about creating effective workouts or incorporating interval training, I’m happy to put in my two cents (although I’m no trained expert!!).

Back in Business

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I’m back in business. No, I’m not returning to my roadside beanie baby bed stand. Unfortunately, I believe that ship has sailed. But, after two and half months of elliptical trainers and Stairmasters, I’ve finally been able to start running again. This time, though, I’ve armed myself with a battery of anti-ITBS weaponry–that is, tricks and trades to keep that painful aching tendon at bay.

1. The Foam Roller

Foam Roller

I’ve been using this puppy religiously for 5-10 minutes after each and every run. For the video I watched to learn how to roll out my aching IT band (or “illiotibial tract”), click here. I’ll warn you–it is hella painful at first. (Yes, I used the word hella. It’s not generally a piece of my vocabulary, but seems most fitting to describe the sensation of squeezing all the lactic acid out of those hard-set knots.) BUT, as this article explains, and I whole-heartedly agree with, the foam roller has magical qualities, and is much cheaper than recurring trips to a massage therapist.

This is how I roll...

2. The Resistance Band

I was fortunate enough to be gifted these by one of the trainers we frequently work out with at the gym. Little did he know they were exactly what I needed for some extra IT band protection. Now, after my runs, I put the band right over my knees:

Then I do a little of this:

Side steps

Then some of this:

Leg Lifts

And a little of that:


By strengthening my hips and thighs, and targeting that outer hip area that I’ve targeted as my “problem area” for IT band pain, I’m hoping to build up some strength for those longer distances.

3. The Pigeon

"The "Pigeon"

After learning this pose in Yoga, it’s one I turn to often. Now, hardly a day goes by that I don’t spend a couple minutes doin’ the pigeon. (I just got this great visual of “The Pigeon” as some kind of dance, involving a lot of head bobbing and arm flapping.)

4. This Stretch

Cross-Knee Stretch

Okay, I don’t know the name for this stretch. But it’s a good one. Just cross one ankle over the opposite knee, roll onto your back, and pull your legs in towards your chest. (P.S. You don’t have to lay down, but it makes for a pretty nice lower-back stretch, then, too.)

5. This Stretch

Standing Stretch

Alright, so I don’t actually know the name for this one either, but was recently introduced to it by a fellow runner. It seems to do the job, too.

I’m now doing what I call “pre-training training” for another half-marathon. As you know, I enjoyed my last one so much, and was super-bummed that my IT band pain kept me from competing in the Thanksgiving Gobbler Grind. A few weeks ago, I started by just running a mile, then stretching, stretching, stretching. Then I upped it to two miles and stretched, stretched, stretched. Now, I’m up to three- to four-mile runs, and am still (knock on wood) pain free. I’m hoping that with my collection of gadgets, and diligent stretching, I’ll be able to effectively train for and run the Rock the Parkway half-marathon in April.