Interval running is a good way to train for races


April 07, 1992|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,Contributing Writer

Many people jog for health and fitness. But if you think you're past that stage and are ready to try racing, here are a few rules:

If you want to compete in a race, you have to learn to run at a very fast pace. But you can't train by running very fast for an extended distance or you'll tear your muscles.

The best approach is to train by running intervals, which are multiple repeat runs of a shorter distance at race pace with brief rests between each run. Since moving very fast in sports can damage your muscles, you probably should not run intervals in training more than once or twice a week.

Here's a schedule if you want to compete in a 5-kilometer race. (That's 3.1 miles.) Let's say you already know you can run 3 miles in 24 minutes, or eight minutes per mile. Once a week, you should run eight fast quarter-mile intervals at two minutes each. (That's an eight-minute-per-mile pace.) Slowly jog a quarter-mile between each fast run.

When you master this schedule, move up to four half-mile runs at 4 minutes per half-mile, with a quarter-mile slow jog between each fast burst. Gradually, try to run your half-mile repeats at a faster pace. Then you can begin to cut down on your interval rests.

You should also try to run a sustained quick run of three to five miles once a week. For example, on Wednesday, run intervals and gradually run each interval faster. On Sunday, depending how you feel, run three to five miles quickly and continuously. On the other days of the week, run at a comfortable pace, or don't run at all.


Q: I had a heart attack six months ago and am still concerned about overdoing it when I exercise. That goes for lovemaking, too. My wife says I worry too much. What do you think?

A: Lovemaking is easy on the heart. It takes the same amount of energy to climb two flights of stairs, walk on level ground at 4 miles per hour, cycle at 10 mph or square dance as it does to make love. If you can get through these activities without pain, you can probably make love safely.

Lovemaking seldom causes chest pain in people who have had heart attacks. Researchers at the University of Toronto found that, of the heart attack victims they studied, 36 percent experienced some chest pain while riding a bicycle but less than 12 percent reported chest pain during lovemaking. In another study, 42 percent of heart attack victims claimed to suffer chest pain, undue fatigue or an irregular heart beat when they made love. However, a careful check showed that most of their symptoms were due to psychological factors.

One of the best ways to prevent chest pain during lovemaking is to get involved in a supervised, controlled exercise program. Researchers studying the link between exercise and chest pain conducted an exercise program for a group of men who had experienced chest pain during lovemaking. After 12 weeks, 67 percent could make love without feeling any chest discomfort.

Q: A woman I work with nibbles food all day long, yet she's trim and healthier than any of the rest of us. What's her secret?

A: When it comes to losing weight and lowering your cholesterol, eating 17 "meals" a day may be more healthful than eating just three.

A study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine showed people who ate 17 meals a day had lower blood cholesterol levels than those who ate three meals.

In fact, men who have changed their eating patterns from three to eight meals a day have been able to lower their blood cholesterol levels.

When you eat a small amount of foodthe key , your blood sugar level rises only a little bit, and your pancreas releases very little insulin. When you eat a large amount of food at one sitting, your blood sugar shoots up, triggering your pancreas to release a great deal of insulin. Insulin causes your liver to make more fat and your body and blood to store more fat. The more food you eat at one time, the more insulin.

Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports medicine and nutrition. United Feature Syndicate.

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