12well_physed-tmagArticle

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

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  • Anna V

    That article is very interesting and thought-provoking. It is kind of offensive, but has a lot of blunt truth in it as well. I definitely agree that it’s important to incorporate a variety of exercise types into your workout regimen, and that it’s SUPER important for women to lift weights! I’m a personal fan of the short circuit style/HIIT workouts myself with one or two runs a week, so I guess I’m glad to see that I’m doing the “right thing” according to some fitness “professionals!”

    • Madison Mayberry

      I agree, Anna, it’s a little offensive in the way it talks to/about women, but there is certainly a lot of truth in the article, too! Good food for thought at the very least! :)

  • http://twitter.com/channelcontessa Clara Artschwager

    Madison- I’m totally on board with your tactics and sentiment! I have tried to love running but I just don’t. That said, I’ve really got into intervals on the treadmill. I’ll generally do 20 or 25 minutes of intervals (alternating fast walking with sprinting) for the first part of my workout, or I’ll do it for 15 minutes to start and then cap my workout (after I’ve lifted) with a long sprint. The intervals keep me busy- I’m constantly changing the pace so I can’t really think about the time and I always feel so good after doing it that’s it helped motivate me to keep it up. The other 30 minutes or so of my workout is devoted to strength training, which I love. I worked with a trainer last summer and the sessions really helped me understand the best weight exercises for my body, how to increase the weight, and so on and so forth. Would love to learn more about the type of strength training exercises you do! xx Clara

    • Madison Mayberry

      What a good idea to hire a trainer for just a time and get some good ideas and base to start with! I don’t think I would like to have a trainer long term, but it would be a great way to get some new ideas. I may need to think about that. But yes, not having to spend forever doing long distance runs has made me super happy. And I feel much better when I’m lifting more. Stronger, leaner, and just all-around firmer. Glad I’m not alone!

  • Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray

    Your post got me thinking a lot…I know I *should* do more than the HIIT workouts I’m doing now – mostly because my upper body strength is negligible at best. But I’m scared to, honestly. I don’t know *how* to do strength training – the machines freak me out, and I don’t know how to exercise with weights. And I can’t afford a trainer, so I end up feeling like “Oh well, I guess I’ll just run. I know how to do that.” I wish I could find a wise and generous trainer who works with poor, strength training dummies.

    • Madison Mayberry

      Oh I feel ya, girl! Joe has been good for me in that regard. Since he is an ex college football player, he knows a lot of great lifting workouts. However, sometimes I think I would like to hire a personal trainer for just a couple months if only to get a few more ideas that are girl-specific and geared to my body. For now websites like Fitnessista and PB Fingers will have to do!

  • http://profiles.google.com/a.mccormick.25 Anne McCormick

    Great post! I totally agree… I trained for a half marathon a few years ago. I enjoyed the experience but it didn’t do anything for my figure. I get the best results from weight training and intervals.

    • Madison Mayberry

      Thanks for sharing, Anne! I am so happy to hear that I’m not the only one. I didn’t dislike running my half marathon and other races, but the idea that I had to train for hours to stay in shape was just too much!

  • Cara Robles

    As someone who loves running and the effects it has on my body, I have a hard time giving it up buuut I do battle a lot of injuries when I run a lot so maybe I need to reconsider. This was interesting and sparked some good thoughts as far as what’s truly best for my body and mind. Thanks for sharing!