Yesterday’s Sprint intervals


Started at 26.8* for the distance (220m or so) and ending at 37.9 by round 8, walking back to the start every time. It was pretty brutal, but felt very productive. My legs feel ok today considering the beating they took, but my obliques, intercostals and abs are totally destroyed! Lesson learned, you want to work your minor abdominal muscles? Do sprints!

*note: I didn’t record the splits for my first two runs.


Nutrition plan

The things I eat are changing around the following principles:

1. The less weight I have to carry, the greater my power to weight ratio will be on those hills.
I’m trying to lose a few pounds and make sure my weight is functional, not just luggage. This is a fine balance to strike, and I have some strategies on how to keep developing, without eating excessively.

2. Post-workout calories are not a bad thing.
In fact, to make serious fitness gains after working out intensively, they are essential. I am assured that in order to build myself back up after each workout, my metabolism cannot run short of the nutrients it needs for repair or else I’ll put a cap on my progress. I’m eating/drinking something to help me recover within an hour of the conclusion of my workout.

3. Pre-workout nutrition.
I know I said I wanted to lose a few pounds, but exercising without the right available store of energy as fuel before the workout is not going to allow me to make fitness gains either. A small snack about 1.5 hours before working out should allow me to push myself to the point where development will occur, while still losing weight gradually.

4. I don’t have to rely on just whey protein.
Aside from trying imaginative new ways to make the amino acids in my shakes a little harder to taste, I’m trying to focus on eating real food. Specifically more high quality sources like lean meat, cottage cheese, low fat Greek yoghurt, porridge, fish and eggs.

5. Portion control.
I’m not weighing everything, but I’m using certain rules of thumb about portion control. As a guide half the plate should be vegetables, 1/4 meat/protein and 1/4 carbs on a reasonably sized plate.

Week 2 update

I am feeling stronger and leaner already. Another 6 weeks of this and I should be getting close to my target weight.

On a couple of workout days it snowed, so I stayed indoors and did the insanity plyometric circuit and cardio balance and power in the place of the interval session last Saturdays planned 10K. Both of these were very formidable workouts, especially the plyometric circuit DVD; it was brutal, and had me taking breaks all over the place. The good part of those DVDs? lots of burpees.

Yesterday I finally was able to get outside and complete the 10K I missed last weekend. I set myself a target pace of 5:20/km, and opted to do the full-on hill version, rather than the gentle course I had originally planned.

It was pretty snowy on the leeward slopes, while elsewhere it was generally waterlogged or muddy. There were a few sections that were really dodgy, so I slowed down quite a bit to get thought it. I was truthfully worried it would be too difficult, but it didn’t feel like too much too soon. I foam rolled today, which was painful as usual, but it’s cheaper than a massage and I’m assured its beneficial.

Here’s the link for my run You’ll see that on average I managed to keep up with my pace goals. I’m going to try and incorporate pacing goals into my Monday post circuit training run sessions.

I other news. I discovered the best smoothie ever for post workout recovery and for replacing lost energy:

1 frozen banana
1 tablespoon of peanut butter
1 scoop of protein powder (vanilla)
300ml skimmed milk.


Spartan Sprint Training Plan: The Hills Are Alive


The Spartan Sprint is a 5K obstacle race, and the shortest distance of all the Spartan Races. Despite being the shortest, it is designed to test entrants to their absolute capacity (at least that’s how it felt) over each of the 5 kilometres. Most of the course is savagely uphill, and at the top of each hill, runners must tackle an obstacle designed to drain their remaining energy before the course throws them down another hill (occasionally with a 40lb sandbag), only to scramble back up the hill to be faced with yet another obstacle. The penalty for falling on an obstacle is 20 burpees.

It was my first race, and I loved it.

I got a time of 34:18 without much targeted preparation – a full 10 minutes behind the winner of the race. Despite that, I came second in my heat, so I didn’t feel too disappointed.

This year I’m training specifically and intensively for the race. I have 7 months to go until race day on the 17th of August. I’ve organized a large team of people to run with me, and I know they are training too.

Weak points

A lack of preparation in the right areas.

My upper body strength was sufficient last year, so I didn’t end up losing much time on the obstacles, but my weak point was definitely the hill running, and the feeling of having lost my endurance. When I lived in Clifton, Bristol (the charming sandstone quarter of that much loved City) I would run on Durham down, including Whiteladies road. Occasionally I’d take in St. Michael’s Hill, both of which are formidable hills. I was interval training once a week on soft grass, and casually competing against fellow joggers three times a week on my regular 10K. The scenery was interesting and varied, and the climate was ideal for running (if you don’t mind a bit of rain now and then!). It was a middle distance runner’s playground. Then I moved to Canada, and the scenery and climate changed dramatically.

Since getting here, I’ve had difficulty making running a consistent part of my fitness routine. The long icy winters and fiercely hot summers make it less than ideal to train year round outdoors. I can’t afford a fancy treadmill with inclines yet (but I’m saving for one). Also, before we moved to our condo in Beddington in the Northwest of Calgary (which is right next to a trail ridden nature reserve called Nose hill) I was basically living in new suburbia being built onto prairie land – A strange place called Skyview Ranch. It was flat, dusty and boring. The trees were as artificial as the lawns they were forced into – Deanna and I both agreed, we might as well have been living in a colony on the moon. No community, nothing to look at, no hills to challenge me. I had no desire to run there, so I worked out indoors.

Insanity and P90X Plyometrics are really not going to cut it this year; they still have their place, but to achieve a better time in the race this year, I am going to have to beat nose hill like it owes me money. I’m going to grit my teeth and get on with it. Proper mad dogs British.

My goal is to increase my aerobic capacity, develop speed, maintain upper body strength, and also maintain the power I have developed during my indoor workouts, by using plyometrics occasionally between intervals. It’s going to get progressively more difficult – and every few weeks I am going to change things completely on myself.

I might even do one week where I do nothing but weight training. Or three days of plyometrics and swimming. I might even use some yoga. The idea is to continuously change the conditions, while maintaining the emphasis on running the distance efficiently.

The Plan

Continue reading

Running intervals


A while back I made an interval training guide on snapguide. It’s not my most popular guide, but it is probably my most effective one for improving your fitness level.

I think the reason people didn’t enjoy “lose weight and get fit with interval training” as much as my other fitness guides is because it required extra work to first build the workouts into another app. I suggested mapping the runs into run keeper, which works, but takes too long.

If I could have shared the pre-made ones, I would have.

Then I discovered Seconds Pro. While this isn’t a GPS app (you can still have run keeper on in the background) it is a much better interval training application. It includes the ability to share interval workouts and import them into your app.

I’ve posted each of those workouts from that guide below. Get the app, and get running. Also check out my other guides.

DISCLAIMER: These are intense workouts! Always consult a physician before attempting any new exercise plan. This is a guide. I am not a qualified trainer. You use these guides and fitness apps at your own risk. I am not responsible for the injury or death of anyone who is using these workouts.

Beginner intervals

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Intermediate intervals

Level 4

Level 5

Level 6

Level 7

Advanced intervals

Level 8

Temple of Doom Pyramid

Fartlek cross country – you still need to create your own.

Hill running – time yourself for 1 minute running up a hill. Jog down slowly

200 metre sprints – no timer for this one either.

I also renamed the guide. Enjoy!