FYI: this will probably be my longest post that I will ever write. I am trying to keep them to a couple paragraphs but there’s so much story behind this one so I want to get it all out there!
“No pain no gain,” right? That’s what working out is all about, right? WRONG. This one took me a long time to get through my head and still doesn’t totally sink in. I got into working out when it was still thought that “a little is great but more is better.” My idea of a healthy person I was a marathon runner or an ultra-endurance athlete. When I got to college I met a guy training for the Ironman and I thought “whoa, I want to do this.” Maybe not a full Ironman but I thought the half was doable. So, I trained with this guy and got in crazy good shape and worked through injuries instead of resting. I pushed my body so far past the edge by the time my senses got the better of me, I had years of recovery ahead. This picture below is about 5 minutes before I collapsed in my first half ironman race. The events of this day are a perfect example of how pushing too hard too far does not end well.
I started getting digestive cramping pretty much within the first 45 minutes of the bike segment and rode for almost three hours with no water or food. I was in so much pain and so dehydrated I don’t know how I even made it that far in the run. I got to one of the water stations and started gasping for air. I am still baffled as to how these people dealt with me. They sat me in a chair and called my emergency number INSTEAD of an ambulance and kept saying “yeah medical is on their way.” My Emergency number was my boyfriend at the time who was pre-med and had a half a brain to lay me down, cover me in shade and since there were no IV’s laying around, he very slowly dripped water mixed with electrolytes into my mouth (not ideal, but it was the only option). I think it took about a half an hour maybe an hour to stabilize me enough to be moved. By the time they (my parents, NOT an ambulance or any actual trained medical personnel because those people never showed up) got me to the medical tent, I was already bouncing back. They evaluated me and determined that I was no longer in any kind of danger. Anyway, long story short, being only 19, you bounce back incredibly fast. Within two hours I was up and walking around and picking at food and by the next day I was 100% physically. Mentally, well that was another story. Bouncing back that quickly messes with your head because you think that you weren’t in that bad of shape and should have kept going to the finish. If I feel so fine now, two hours later, then why did they take me out of the race? I must have just been a big baby, a quitter, a total failure. I needed to train more and harder.
Super healthy, right? Oh so so so not. While that worked for me for about a year, and was able to come back and dominate that race, not only finishing but placing in my age group(yay!), after that my body just started breaking down.
I am not saying you shouldn’t train for long distance events and that you aren’t healthy if you do. What I AM saying is you don’t NEED to do that level of training to be healthy. The athletes that successfully train for those events are taking needed rest, listening to their bodies, replenishing antioxidants and consuming ample protein and are doing it for the SPORT, not for optimal health. That’s a major distinction. I hope that story didn’t impress you. I told you that story so that you would think “what an idiot!” There are way better methods to stay healthy and even train for events that don’t involve destroying your body.
What is the method???
It’s something called HIIT which stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This concept just started to hit mainstream back in 2010 where I first started hearing more about it. Now I think a lot of people pretty much know what it is.
Its quite simple; you have a work interval at a high intensity and a rest interval, sometimes equal duration or sometimes double the duration of the work interval. There are infinite ways to structure the workout and the actual format depends on what you are training and it can get really sciency so I won’t get into that. What is interesting about this basic format is that the work intervals or “high intensity” intervals do not even need to be maximum efforts. Sweet! Now you don’t have to worry about pushing yourself to the point of vomiting. This is great stuff and it’s a huge focus in exercise and rehabilitative research these days.
Here are some of the benefits of HIIT training:
The first one is my favorite…
1. Total workout time WAYYYYY less. You don’t need to work out as long! Those hour long cardio sessions are gone baby…GONE! You can get an AWESOME workout in 20 minutes!
2. You burn tons of calories AFTER you work out throughout the rest of the day. That means shredding fat!
3. Your body is better able to get rid of the sugar in you blood and get it into the cells. That means those of you that are teetering on the edge of diabetes are going to start backing way far away from that diagnosis.
4. Build more muscle mass!: YES… you may have heard that all that cardio breaks down muscle mass. After exercising for that long your muscles want to adapt to long sessions so the bulky fibers dissipate and endurance fibers get laid down, which are smaller. So all that toning progress is going to be delayed.
5. Beyond the healthy population, they are now using HIIT sessions with…you ready for this????... HEART FAILURE PATIENTS! Its true! People with congestive heart failure are bouncing back after implementing HIIT session. Of course, they are closely monitored and supervised. You MUST talk to your doctor if you have cardiovascular disease or any disease for that matter to determine if you will require extra supervision during exercise session. Your doctors know stuff and communication is key!
The list can continue but I think you get the point.
HIIT workouts can be ANYTHING. You can do twenty seconds of jumping jacks and rest for 20 seconds or go to a track and run around the track once and walk the next. You can do 20 seconds
of low weight high reps of your favorite weight training exercises. You can bump it to 30 seconds or really any length of time you want! The world is your oyster. I make up all kinds of different things for myself. I use an app called “Seconds” to write my workouts and then it just tells me what to do so I don’t have to think or keep track of anything while I am working out. If you pay the five bucks for the paid version you can save all your workouts and revisit them later. It’s totally worth it! You can also build in warm up and cool down time. Its 100% customizable.
If you have any questions about anything please feel free to contact me! Stay tuned because I will periodically post some workout ideas on my Blog and Instagram!