Happy Friday, friends! And happy early Mother’s Day to all you moms out there celebrating this weekend! My mom is coming to town for the weekend. We don’t have any major plans for the weekend, but I’m excited to have her in town just to spend time together.
I’ve gotten questions from a few people asking what races I’ll be doing this spring/summer/fall. Quite an understandable question, since Joe and I typically try to put a half marathon and a couple other races on the calendar throughout the warmer months. However, this year we have zero plans to race. Sure, we might sign up for some 5k races here and there, but the long runs are not in our plans. And here’s why:
Recently people have been talking about this article by Michael Boyle about “Why (most) Women Shouldn’t Run” that sparked a lot of debate. Many women runners and bloggers I follow responded with outrage. I’m a runner, not a fast one or a great one, but I’ve logged my fair share of miles in the past. Half marathons, 12 milers, 10 milers and shorter races, too. But I wasn’t outraged by the article. In fact, the idea that I shouldn’t spend an hour or more on the treadmill or out pounding the pavement made me feel relieved more than anything.
If we’re being real, the true reason I ran long races in the past was so I could continue to fit into my skinny jeans and maintain my current weight. Sure, I felt super accomplished after completing my 12-mile race last summer, but I don’t love to run for the sake of running. I do, however, love to be active and break a sweat almost every day. But lately the idea of logging anything more than 3 miles sounded like torture.
The concept of high intensity cardio training paired with weight lifting isn’t new to me, but the idea that it could be enough to keep my weight in check without long and boring steady-state cardio sessions really appealed to me. After reading the article, and doing a bit more research on my own, I decided to give the concept a try.
Over the past four weeks I have give up long runs and elliptical/arc trainer sessions and introduced shorter, high-intensity workouts (quarter mile intervals, treadmill sprints, burpees for time, sprints at an incline, etc.) about 20 to 25 minutes in length paired with strength training (both lifting weights and body weight exercises).
I’m not an expert in the topic by any meals and am certainly not a personal trainer. But what I can tell you is that in the month that I’ve been changing things up I haven’t gained any weight. My weight has stayed very consistent and I feel like I look more toned. It feels as though the added lifting has added some muscle which has taken the place of some of the fat in my body composition, though the only way to truly tell would have been to do a body fat analysis.
Since people have such mixed opinions on the topic, I’m not going to assume one way is right and another is wrong. If you do love to run long distances and are doing for the mental benefit, then heck you should keep doing it! But if you are like me and don’t have a passion for running long distances or spending 45 minutes on the elliptical every day, I think it’s good news that you don’t have to in order to stay fit and trim.
These days, Joe and I typically try to get to the gym 4 or 5 days a week, and the other days we try to find a way to be active outside the gym. Sometimes that is a long walk with Nutmeg, other days its hours of yard work, a game of tennis or an at-home workout (we’ve been loving the Crossfit-type body weight workouts you can do in about 15 to 20 minutes at home) in the yard when it’s pretty outside. Oh, and Fridays are always yoga night at our gym for a 90-minute hot yoga class that kicks our butt.
I guess that’s the world’s longest way of answering a very simple question, but since I’m a sucker for hearing what is working/isn’t working fitness-wise for other people, I thought I would share.
Have any of you had a similar experience? What do you find works for you?
Related and interesting reading:
NY Times article on the 7-minute workout (picture above)
Jen’s post in response to the article I mentioned8 Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training from SHAPE Magazine