Common methods for training include periodization, intervals, hard easy, long slow distance, and in recent years Tabata intervals. The periodization method is very common and was accredited to Tudor Bompa and consists of blocks of time, generally 4–12 weeks each. The blocks are called preparation, base, build, and race. The goal of a structured training program with periodization is to bring the athlete into peak fitness at the time of a big race or event. Preparation as the name suggests lays the groundwork for heavier work to follow. For a runner contemplating a competitive marathon the preparation phase might consist of easier runs of 1–4 miles 3-4 times per week and including 2–3 days of core strengthening. In the base phase the athlete now works on building cardiovascular endurance by having several long runs staying in heart rate zone 1-2 every week and each week adding slightly more mileage (using 10% rule for safely increasing the mileage). Core strengthening is continued in the base period. Once the base phase is complete and the athlete has sufficient endurance, the build period is needed to give the athlete the ability to hold a faster pace for the race duration. The build phase is where duration of runs is traded for intensity or heart rate zones 3-5. An easy method to obtain intensity is Interval training and interval training starts to happen in the build phase. Through interval training during the build phase the athlete can achieve higher Lactate Threshold and in some athletes VO2 max is increased. Because interval training is demanding on the body, a professional coach should be consulted. In the very least the athlete should do a warm up and active stretching before the interval session and static stretch or yoga after hard interval sessions. It is also advisable to have days of rest or easy workouts the day after interval sessions. Finally the race phase of the periodization approach is where the duration of the workouts decreases but intense workouts remain so as to keep the high lactate threshold that was gained in the build phase. In Ironman training, the race phase is where a long “taper” occurs of up to 4 weeks for highly trained Ironman racers. A final phase is designated transition and is a period of time, where the body is allowed to recover from the hard race effort and some maintenance endurance training is performed so the high fitness level attained in the previous periods will not be lost.
If I could bottle up a special health prevention pill, it would be comprised of your shoes, and feet. Recent research has shown just how much more powerful walking is than previously thought.
I don’t need to be convinced, since people regularly see me walking all over Los Angeles with my training clients. They have all benefited from the powerful, health producing, results of their walking programs.
Compared to other cardiovascular training methods, walking is extremely convenient, and inexpensive. You can walk just about anywhere. All you need is a pair of shoes, and you are off. No expensive high tech equipment is necessary. How much easier can it be?
Another positive feature of walking is its low impact on joints, muscles, and bones, as well as, for most people, the physical ease of doing it.
Three recent research studies suggested there are even more benefits associated with brisk walking. These benefits include better survival rates for women with breast cancer, reduced risk of endometrial cancer, and lower rates of cardiovascular challenges.
Please be aware, walking should not be simply a shopping stroll, but a brisk, 2.0 mph plus walk. Your walking heart rate should reach more than 55% of your maximum heart rate for an extended period of time. Your maximum heart rate can be calculated by taking 220 minus your age.
The study suggested physical activity has been linked to lower levels of circulating ovarian hormones, which could explain the relationship between physical activity and breast cancer.
The endometrial cancer study, conducted at Vanderbilt University, and the Shanghai Cancer Institute, found that women who walked for exercise in adolescence and adulthood had a 37 percent reduced risk of the disease. Even post menopausal women who recently started to walk reduced their risk 24%. The study sample was 1700 women. Reductions in risk began after 25 minutes per day up to 50 minutes per day.
In another study conducted at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, researchers examined the effects of 30 minutes of self paced, brisk walking, 5 days per week for 50-65 year old individuals.
The results were very impressive with significant decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, reduction in stroke risk, and increased functional capacity.
Now that we understand some of the many great health benefits of walking, we need to understand what is the best way motivate yourself to get those 3-5 days per week in.
Researchers have found that counting steps is by far more motivational than using time to track progress. Shoot for 10,000 steps per day. I recommend investing in a pedometer to keep track of the total amount of steps you walk per day. You can find them anywhere online, or at your local sporting good store.
10,000 steps per day walkers seem to be more aware of how many more steps they need to achieve their goal as a result of the constant reminder from the pedometer.
A good resource for the 10,000 steps concept is The Step Diet: Count Steps, Not Calories to Lose Weight and Keep It Off Forever.
Staying consistent, week after week, with your walking program is great, but adding 2 days of strength training, and flexibility work is even better.
For my “secret health prevention pill” consider starting a walking program today. Lace up your shoes, take the prevention pill, and pound the pavement!
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