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A Simple Fitness Plan, Part I


My 2011 goals are all about revising, improving and simplifying my life, and the first area of focus is my fitness plan.

One of the 2010 goals I actually accomplished (more or less) was already simple enough — running at least three days per week. So my initial plan was to revise and improve it for 2011 by upping the frequency of my runs to four days a week.

Then right before hosting 40 people for Thanksgiving, my sister fell, breaking her nose, and injuring her back and knee. She also — unwittingly — revised my fitness plan.

At her follow-up visit, my sister asked her doctor how soon she could resume running. His reply?


He explained that humans simply aren’t built for distance jogging, and that the longer my sister continued, the more damage she would do to her body over time.

So — according to my sister’s doctor — what are humans built for?

Walking. And sprinting. (Something about fight or flight…)

He then outlined a walk/sprint routine* for her, one that supposedly takes about 40 minutes and “practically guarantees that you’ll be in the best shape of your life.”

Turns out I rather like the idea of being in the best shape of my life. So I revised the first part of my 2011 fitness plan to include a walk/sprint routine at least two (of the four) days a week.

Some people might call it interval training. Some might call it copping out. But so far I’m liking it.

My highly unscientific method:

For now, I pretty much just walk briskly for two minutes, then sprint as fast as I can for as long as I can. Then I walk for another two minutes before sprinting again. When I hit 20 minutes, I turn around and do the same thing on my way home. (Next week I’ll time myself at the high school track to better judge my distances.)

My body’s really feeling the difference — it’s a more intensive cardio plan than I’m used to, and some muscles I haven’t acknowledged for quite a while are screaming at me.

But the best part is the sprinting. There’s something all-out joyful and childlike in running as fast as I can. It takes more concentration than my steady jog – I have to really pay attention to my form (all those years running on a track team are finally coming in handy) — but the endorphin rush is totally worth the effort.

*Note: The plan my sister’s doctor outlined for her is pretty specific, but since I am in no way a fitness expert, I can’t endorse it. Basically it involves gradually increasing distances from 50 to 400 yards, then repeating in reverse, with 2-minute walk intervals.

There’s also a decent (if old) online article about getting started with a Run/Walk plan in Runner’s World magazine.


Coming up: A Simple Fitness Plan, Part II

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/27 10:13 AM

    Jen! I was JUST thinking I should take up running because it appears that the most toned people I know are runners. Yet I HATE running, so you can imagine how much I LUV your sister’s Dr. At the sametime, I have to admit I was cracking up thinking about you sprinting as fast as you can down the street. I don’t know why but the image of a grown woman racing down the street just makes me giggle. Keep us posted on your progress!

    • Jennifer permalink*
      01/27 10:29 AM

      So funny you say that — the first time I tried it I laughed every time I sprinted! I’ve found it helps if I pretend I’m in a race. It also helps that I run on the canals by my house where I can sometimes go the entire time without seeing another person.

      And btw my little yogini, the most toned people I know practice yoga.

  2. Anne Ryan permalink
    01/27 10:40 PM

    I have seen people doing this (down city streets) and thought- what the?! Now it makes sense. Sounds cool, I might try it- in a discreet place. :)

    • Jennifer permalink*
      01/28 8:24 AM

      Highly recommend! Hint: You could always come for a visit and try it here on our deserted canal banks…

  3. 01/31 9:31 PM

    So inspiring! I’ve done something like this in the past. The same concept works on a treadmill, though it’s more dull, and on other equipment. I might need to go the equipment route because I can have my three wee people hanging around at my feet that way. And it’s freezing outside. Good plan for getting more out of my rather feeble home-based workouts.

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