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Day 17 - Sprinting

Yep, sprinting.

Before we figure out how and when to do it, let’s talk about how we’re going to define it.

It’s an activity that’s so intense that you can only sustain it for a few seconds before you have to slow down to recover.

Traditionally it’s running or cycling, but we can also apply it to a number of exercise machines like ellipticals, versa climbers, rowing machines or old school, low tech like a jump rope.

This is something that you’re going to build up to.

If you’ve been walking regularly you’ve already started building your cardiovascular base but this also falls into that not biting off more than you can chew category. You have to be sure that you’re healthy enough to take this on before you jump in.

Why am I suggesting that sprinting be incorporated into our fitness routine?

Because it was part of what kept us alive during our Paleo days.

If something mean and nasty was coming after us, we either sprinted away or we became bear chow. And today most people never sprint. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been chased by a bear.

What I’m suggesting is that we figure out a way to recapture the adaptive benefit that comes from an “all-out pace” for brief periods of time during exercise. It’s more of that high-intensity interval stuff—the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).

Pushing yourself beyond your current limits is what raises your ceiling.

It signals to your body that it needs to get stronger and faster in order to keep up.

It’s crucial that you only undertake sprint session when you’re feeling on top of your game.

If you wake up dragging in the morning, that’s not the day to go hammer it on a sprint session.

And just as important as the sprint session itself, adequate recovery following the sprint session is crucial. I’d suggest no more than one per week for the foreseeable future. This is not a more is better exercise.

And there are ways for you to approach this so you don’t have to worry about getting a face full of pavement and alarming the neighbors.

I like using an elliptical, a stationary bike or my favorite is the rowing machine for sprints.

I’ve also included a sheet that describes some running sprints.

You want to get warmed up before you do this.

I do a 5- 10 minute warm up and some light range of motion stretches. Then I’ll do 20-30 seconds at a controlled all-out pace.

And by that, I mean that you want to make sure that you’re maintaining your form.

After the sprint, go easy for 30 seconds up to 2 minutes—however long it takes for your breathing to return to normal.

Then, go again for 20-30 seconds, then another 30 seconds to 2 minutes to catch your breath.

Do a total of 6 sprints and then 5-10 minutes of cool down and light stretching.

If at any time your form starts to break down or you start to have any type of muscle tweaks or tightness, you’ve hit your limit for the day.

If you haven’t been regularly exercising prior to starting this challenge, I’d hold off on these until closer to the end of the 21 days.

The reason for the daily walks or light jogging is to build up an aerobic base before you start the sprints or the max effort weightlifting.

I called this a 21-day challenge or 21 days to A Balanced You, but here’s something important to keep in mind.

This is a process.

And you need to build your foundation so that whenever you push yourself, you do so from foundational strength.

Whenever you go all-out your body interprets that signal as an indication that it needs to get stronger and faster, so that it can be ready for the next challenge.

In order for that adaptive response to be successful, you need to give yourself enough recovery time.

That’s why I only recommend doing sprints once every 7-10 days.

Today’s assignments are going to include SPRINTS.  Let’s talk about food for a minute.  I have tried not to be too prescriptive around food, except to say it needs to be real food.  And to eliminate grains and sugar.  Here’s a link to the Fearless Cooking part of my web page and feel free to cook any of these meals except the Spaghetti Puttanesca or the Coconut Milk Ice Cream.  I’d save those until after the challenge.  I like recipes for ideas, but most of my meals are just roasted, sauteed or grilled meat and veggies.  Nothing too fancy.

I hope you woke up with a full tank of gas, because I’d like for you to get a sprint session in today.  Nothing too crazy.  We’re going to go to an exertion level of 8 instead of an “everything you’ve got” 10.  You can do it on stairs, on an exercise bike, a rower, elliptical.  I’d avoid running sprints unless you’ve been running for a while.  If you are going to run them, then doing them up a grass hill and recover walking down the hill can work. 

Just like I described above, you’re going to do an easy warm-up for  5-10 minutes, then sprint for 20-30 seconds, recover for long enough to get your breathing closer to normal (anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes and then repeat.  You’re looking for 5-6 intervals, but if your form starts to break down or gets sloppy then you’re done.  Just do a 5-10 minute walk to cool down.  

Today would be a good time to use a foam roller or tennis ball on sore or tight muscles.  Just find the sore spots and hang out on them for 30 seconds on the foam roller.  You can use a lacrosse ball, but it’s pretty hard core.

Make sure that you get your 7-8 hours sleep tonight and nice job on the sprints!


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