Run Forrest, Run!

I lost a lot of my enthusiasm for running after reading this article (be warned, it’s a little contentious and not very PC) and my cardiovascular fitness took a nosedive as a result. I got interested in high intensity interval training (HIIT) and developed a love for kettle bells instead. When I did occasionally go for a run my limbs felt heavy, and I took my laboured breathing and tight chest as an indication that I’d lost condition, and I didn’t like it.

For a while (and before reading this article), when I was living in Nelson, instead of jogging four or five kilometres at a steady pace like I used to do, I would do a series of sprints along Tahunanui Beach or up the Maitai. I’d jog for a while to warm up, then sprint as fast as I could for as long as I could, then when I couldn’t go any further I’d slow to a walk until I felt completely recovered then I’d sprint again. Each successive sprint got a little slower and a little shorter but man it was fun! I mean how often do adults really get the opportunity to do an all-out sprint in everyday life? I’d say pretty much never, unless you make it happen.

Now that it’s winter and I have a gym membership I’ve been doing a little running challenge. The premise is pretty basic: to run two kilometres as quickly as possible. It came to me one evening when I was on the treadmill doing some dreaded steady-state cardio (the article I linked to at the start of this post states that excessive amounts of steady-state cardio can lead to fat gain and hypothyroidism, especially in women, and especially when caloric restriction is also happening). It was all feeling rather pointless as I had no particular goal or aim in mind in terms of speed or distance. So I thought why not challenge myself to see how quickly I can run two kilometres.

Below are the 10 runs I did over the last couple of months, with my final run time being three minutes and 21 seconds quicker than my initial run time.

Date Run time Distance travelled first Time of day Notes
14/05/2014 13:25 Evening No strategy
16/05/2014 12:22 Morning Fasted except coffee
21/05/2014 11:33 Morning Fasted except coffee
31/05/2014 11:13 Morning Yoghurt and chlorella beforehand
06/06/2014 11:03 Morning Fasted except coffee
10/06/2014 10:39 300 m Evening Brussels sprouts and bacon for lunch, used Gymboss for first time
18/06/2014 10:30 400 m Mid-morning Porridge for breakfast
26/06/2014 10:26 300 m Mid-morning Coffee and banana only
04/07/2014 10:21 500 m Mid-morning Porridge for breakfast
08/07/2014 10:04 500 m Afternoon Steak and veggies for lunch

 

For the first five runs I just used the timer on the treadmill, which meant I started out walking for a few seconds as I got the treadmill up to speed. After a while I realised that I was losing too much time by doing that so I started using the stopwatch on my Gymboss, which allowed me to get up to a decent speed before I began. I also rowed for one kilometre on the rowing machine set at the highest resistance as a warm up each time – this took about five minutes. Initially I thought factors such as time of day, food eaten beforehand, and running strategy – such as when to try and run the fastest – might influence my run time, but in hindsight I think that my determination to improve on my previous time was by far and away more powerful a tool than nutrition or time of day. There were times when I wasn’t felling particularly energised beforehand and I would think to myself “I don’t think I’m gonna make it any quicker this time” but my mental fortitude seemed to make up for what my legs were lacking on the day.

I could keep going with this challenge and maybe continue to shave off a few more seconds each time, but I’m pretty happy with my final time of 10 minutes and four seconds, and I’m also getting a bit bored with running.

If you read Kiefer’s article and are worried that running will make you fat, please don’t be. However, I do agree with him that excessive running coupled with under-eating will probably ruin your metabolism, make you feel awful, and force your body into starvation mode where it will hold onto fat in an effort to stay alive. My advice would be get off the treadmill and run outdoors, in nature, up hills and along beaches, and do it because you love it, not for punishment. And eat sensibly too.

Advertisements