Any time we do the same exercise routine, the same workout, over and over, no change whatsoever, our bodies are very good at becoming more efficient at that workout. If you have made a regular habit of walking five miles at, let’s say, a 17-minute-mile pace, your legs and your heart and lungs will have adapted to that pace and that distance to the point that it is no strain at all for you.
Well, that is certainly what we all aim for. That’s what working to get in shape for a particular goal is all about, doing it repeatedly to the point that what in the beginning was a challenge becomes more and more comfortable, until it became an easy outing.
May I suggest, for both your body and your mind, that you occasionally add intervals into the mix. Okay. You’re heading out for your five miler. But today you’re going to throw in, at the end of each ten-minute span, two very intense minutes, at a pace that is a strain for you. So you do your first ten minutes just as you always do, at your 17-minute-mile pace. You look at your watch. At exactly the ten-minute mark, you go into almost speed-walking mode. You pick up your pace to walk just about as fast as you can, almost a run. You imagine there’s bus you MUST catch down the block. You swing your arms much more forcefully. You extend your stride. Your lungs ask you for more oxygen. Your heart speeds up to deliver that oxygen to your muscles. You are now breathing hard and looking intently at your watch for that second hand to tell you you’ve hit the two-minute mark.
Now you cruise back to the 17-minute pace you’re very accustomed to. You catch your breath. Your legs relax and resume their comfortable, normal stride. Your arms go back to a nice, easy swinging motion. Ten minutes back in your groove. Then two more minutes at a crank pace. And so on till you get your five miles in.
The five miles that have become your routine, usually taking you 85 minutes, won’t take you any longer on this interval day. But this time you’ll be doing 14 of those 85 minutes at a pace that is demanding for you. If you throw in this type of interval workout once a week or even once every two weeks, you’ll start finding that your usual 17-minute pace is just a bit too slow for you and you’ll start comfortably handling this distance at a 16:45-per-mile pace.
Intervals demand of your body an output that is more intense than slower, steady pacing. In the end, your slow steady pace actually improves because your systems have gotten used to a heavier load.
And it’s a nice motivator, to set out now and then on an interval walk, to mix in with your normal, even-paced outings. You can get excited about designing your interval workout.
And you don’t always have to be on the clock, like a trained athlete. Let’s say you’re strolling down a beautiful country road. You bear down on a tree or pole up the road and decide to quicken your pace till you get to that tree. Once there, you go back to strolling. Randomly, some minutes later, you set a new tree in your sights and you bust it again for a little bit.
The issue of losing weight comes in here. When your body adjusts to any walking distance and pace, it starts demanding fewer calories of you to keep up that same distance and pace. You put it through some intervals and it goes to your glycogen stores (blood sugars) and asks for more. You burn more calories when your body is surprised by what you are demanding of it.
Give some intervals a try. I guarantee you’ll be stronger for having included them now and then on your walks. GO FOR IT!!!!!!!