Here in Minnesota, the weather is perfect for running. I'm pumped to get in a long run in the cooler morning temperature, but a two hour workout isn't always feasible. If you're looking for a shorter, efficient workout, try a Tabata interval. The above video shows a Tabata workout for runners.
Tabata workouts are named after the a Japanese physician and researcher. Dr. Tabata was hired by a speed skating coach to test the efficacy of the team's training program. Read, The History of Tabata from Grokker.com if you're interested in more detail.
Now, Tabata has become all sorts of things--group fitness classes, circuit training with weights, and running workouts--quite a bit different than the original workouts done by speed skaters on stationary bikes.
The concept, however, is fairly simple: Bouts of intense exercises, with short rests in between the intense efforts. These workouts are also called high intensity interval training (HIIT). For a runner, this could be sets of sprinting followed by sets of jogging as follows:
- Do a 5-10 minute walk/jog before starting.
- Begin your workout with a 20 second sprint followed by a 10 second rest (walking).
- Start by doing this 4-8 times
- A set of 8 of these takes 4 minutes.
- If you are newer to exercise, don't go all out on the sprints.
- Try to find a hill to do this workout.
- Sprinting uphill reduces impact forces that can lead to injury.
- Work your way up to doing more intervals, or more intense intervals.
- Don't do this workout more than a few days a week, and always recover a day or two between workouts.
So how efficient is this workout? Those original speed skaters doing Tabata training showed more aerobic and anaerobic improvements than a group who did moderate training for a longer period of time. So, if you're crunched for time or would rather do something intense and painful rather than spending more time at a moderate pace, this workout might be a good one to try.
You can find all kinds of variations on this Tabata workout, or workouts like it, on You Tube. There's also many smart phone applications with a timer that counts the interval times. Here's a link to a Tabata application for Android: Tabata timer with music. Applications are also available for Windows and iOS.