Rob's Blog Archive

July 27, 2014

NordicTrack Tabata










I have always had a fondness for interval training.  I like intervals because they do a lot in a short time.  I suppose there’s a bit of latent masochism there, too. 

My first experience with hard conditioning was playing C football in high school.  Conditioning for this included a variety of interval training drills and was topped off by wind sprints.  Frustrated by being the slowest, even though I was working as hard as anybody, there was still something about them that appealed to me.  When I started getting ready for my first hikes, at the age of fourteen, I did intervals.  I forced my brother, Rick, to do them too.  Pain was a good thing.

My senior year in high school, I switched over to plain distance running.  The summer between high school and college, I’d run a track.  I topped off at 2 miles.  Running on a track is boring.  I’d add that it was ten years before the Sony Walkman, no less a music player you really could carry around while running, and music does make a difference.  I digress. 

In college, preparing for wrestling, I started running roads.  San Marino was hilly enough that I was running up inclines.  Without my knowing it, I was doing intervals. 

While in Grad School, I had more of a choice between runs with hills and runs without them.  I discovered that if I ran on level ground, my times dropped ever so slowly.  When I included hills, I could see improvement on a weekly basis.  Moving to the Bay Area for a year and a half only validated the lesson.   The final confirmation was moving back to Seattle and living on top of Capital Hill----I had to run hills, though by that time I was seeking them out.

It was also during grad school that I learned that what hills gave me was interval training.  With this, even when I wasn’t running hills, I tried to add intervals.  This has included working out on my NordicTrack where I’d sprint for one or two tenths of a kilometer, then return to a slower speed.  I’d incorporate four to six of these in a workout.  

With my most recent efforts at running, I’ve included hills when running roads, and added what’s called Fartlek training when I’m on the treadmill.  Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play.”  Fartlek training incorporates sprints randomly during a training session.  In a real sense, it’s more like hills than standard intervals, the latter usually being structured: a tenth of a km sprinting, a tenth coasting vs. a tenth here and a tenth there.  In fact, in days of yore when I’d do several different runs, the hills came at different points in the run and, thus, out of rhythm just like fartlek training. 

Most recently, I’ve learned about Tabata training.  It’s 20 seconds at a full sprint, then 10 seconds of rest.   Eight reps----four minutes.  Like all interval training, all exercises that can be done both aerobically and anaerobically can incorporate this.  And so, I have started doing NordicTrack Tabata.   I can say that, as I work through my intervals, my focus on the watch that tells me when I can stop reaches amazing levels. 

What I’ve recently realized----yet another great reason for incorporating interval training into my workouts---is that so many of them have great names. 

“Hey, Terryl,”—she runs the gym in town--- “did some fartlek training today.  What’d you do?”

“Mike, last night before bed, I did NordicTrack Tabata.”

Is that great, or what? 

At the end of wrestling practice, one of the most common conditioning exercises we’d do was combine whatever calisthenics the wrestler wanted to do into a single drill, but the caveat was no more than four consecutive reps of any exercise.  We called it “crazy drill,” because that’s what we looked like doing it for two or three minutes at the end of practice.  Predating Insanity---also a good name---by more than three decades, it got us into shape.  Good names for interval training has a long tradition.

“Hey dad, what did you do today?” said Jake. 

“Fartlek training, Jake.”  I replied.

Tail wagging and a big smile on his face, “You are the coolest!”

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