Interval training: might not kill you but it hurts the whole time you're alive...

Interval training: might not kill you but it hurts the whole time you’re alive…

The last time I was at the library I picked up a book called “Antifragile” By Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I found it by surfing along a series of shelves of New Releases and Staff Picks (I don’t recall whether it was a New Release or a Staff Pick). I knew nothing about the concept except what I read on the book jacket: that an Antifragile system is one that actually grows stronger after enduring chaos, uncertainty, or destruction (as compared to a Fragile system which is destroyed or a Robust system which is neither destroyed nor improved by adversity).

I knew I was reading something interesting when I had to get out of my chair to fetch my phone so that I could start looking up words in that I didn’t know like “heuristic” and “mathematical convexity” before even finishing the Prologue. I might have been intimidated by a writer who used such  dense, erudite language except that this was also a writer who was not above  also using words like “Fragilista”, “sissy”, and “evidence-schmevidence”. I was already intrigued by the idea of Antifragility, but the evil little anarchist in me loves writing that pairs diligent research with a disregard for convention to dramatic effect.

I can’t comment on the rest of the book yet as I am still in the first chapter of the argument, but in the course of describing how Antifragile systems work the writer used weight lifting as an example; in particular “maximum lifts” weight lifting which involves trying to lift the maximum amount of weight on a single lift rather than doing a lot of repetitions. The idea is that when your body struggles to lift a very heavy weight that it will then rebuild itself in anticipation of having to lift that kind of weight again and will overcompensate a little bit so that it will be even more prepared to lift that particular weight.

Now, as a runner repetition is what I do best. I’m not fast and I’m not interested in becoming fast: I just want to be able to run forever. I’m beginning to discover, however, that I’m not actually in that great of shape. Sure I can run twelve miles, but my muscles aren’t really very well developed as evidenced by my continual struggle with hip and knee troubles. So yesterday I thought I would change up my running by  doing some intervals: I would run as fast as I could for short bursts and then walk in between.

This was fun for exactly five minutes.

Back in high-school I elected to take an interval training gym class. I was one of two girls in the class and I was pretty sure that I was going to die trying to keep up but I was too proud to drop out. I’ve hated intervals ever since: I am not naturally a sprinter so even my fastest running isn’t that fast, and interval training is not a form of running that will take you places or allow you to think deep thoughts. But for as much as I hate it I can tell that it was good for me: I can feel muscles aching that I don’t usually know I have. It is the exercise equivalent of eating your vegetables.

So my question is this: if you run just because you like running (not because you’re a racer or something) how do you inspire yourself to do the workouts that you hate like interval training?


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 3, 2013.

One Response to “Intervals”

  1. […] Intervals: In which I describe reading about the benefits of an extremely strenuous workout and then am […]

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