The 36 minute speed workout, with love from Joao

So I spent one night a week at a hotel thanks to work. And using the best advice I got from my masseuse/running mentor/ultra runner¬†Olga¬†(check out her blog), I’ve been putting this time to good use. I use the hotel gym to do my hill workouts or speed workouts. Because even though its speed workouts with Joe on Tuesdays, it’s so hot that there is no speed. There is only one thought “must not pass out, must finish run running/standing”. Last Tuesday it was brutal at 101F, walking up the Hill of Life, I had to sit down 3 times to bring down my HR. Three times! I’ve never had to SIT during a run!

Anyhoo, back to the hotel workout. So it’s something I learned with my hottie Brazilian coach Joao. Warm up for 1/2 a mile at an even pace on the treadmill. So you run at like 5-5.5 miles to get your HR up (and your legs awake if it’s in the morning). That took around 6 minutes. And then its 5-6 repeats of the following: run hard (I run at 7mi per hour or at 8.34 pace) for 4 minutes and then recover for 2 minutes. I usually go for full recovery so that I can make the 4 minutes easier and make it count. Otherwise it feels like my heart will pop. The workout seems easy but each repeat gets harder. The hardest is probably the second or third because recovery takes the whole 2 mins. By recovery I mean, either run/jog slow at 4.5-5 miles per hour or sometimes I power walk at 4 miles and use the entire 2 minutes to bring down the HR. When I used to do this in Brazil, outside, I didn’t have an idea of the pace, so I was told to use a target HR. So hard means running at 175-180 rpm and recovery is at 140 rpm. (Dreamy Joao used to say Hart Hate, but he meant love).

So based on your speed your 4-2 intervals will vary but it’s a good way to start with target HR also.

It is one of the best workouts for

1) becoming faster – I did about 3.5 miles in 36 minutes and it gets better every time. When I ran the 10K in Sao Paulo, I really felt myself becoming much faster thanks to 3 months of medium long runs and lots of speed workouts like this.

2) losing weight – trust me it works best when you run hard (and of course don’t pound on breakfast right after)

3) when you don’t have much time, the whole workout is 36 minutes! It can be shorter if you’re faster than me or you can run longer miles if you’re faster than me.

4) It’s not great for endurance but if you do it frequently your recovery times get shorter and you’re able to sustain longer intervals at high speeds. So eventually endurance builds up if you’re able to go up to 45 minutes. Remember you only need 30 minutes (intervals of 4 + 2) for 5 repeats so more than that will help build endurance I think.

Again I’m no expert so take this at face value!

Running through questions

First, a 4 mile run in 100F feels very different when it ends from when you begin. I like to think I have gotten better at handling heat. And you bet I have. Last year, I wouldn’t have made it through this run. But I think slowly but steadily getting out there in the heat, humidity and whathaveyou in TX or elsewhere in the US where there have been heat waves, it’s been working. Every run is different but every run has helped build that resilience to high temps. In Chicago, there was a heat wave but I got in about 4-5 runs in my week long trip there. Even though it was disgustingly humid and I walked a lot more than I ran, I still managed to do 3-4 miles. Being on the lakeshore obviously helped. It was gorgeous with or without the heat. It was different running in the midwest, where I lived as a couch potato. I saw the city and the town I lived in for five years of grad school, West Lafayette IN in new light. Bharath even showed me a neat 2 mile trail inside the city that would have been gorgeous for running even in the winter. Bharath actually did some of these short runs with me but he really doesn’t like running (despite his new Vibrams which felt better). Still, I was glad for the company at times.