Shaking Things Up A Bit

I’m a slow runner. I usually say that with a shrug and a resigned tone of voice. On paper my running pace could be mistaken for another person’s walking pace.

Since the purpose of my running is usually focused on not dying during half marathons, I’ve never ever taken the time to try to get faster – it was all about running longer. While I did manage to finish one particular 5K race at just over 12 minutes per mile, my longer races usually average about 14.5 minutes per mile. Seriously, walking for most people.

I asked a few running friends if they just gradually got faster the more they ran (which I’ve been hoping would just happen), and several mentioned that they worked on it using interval training: short bursts as fast as you can go alternating with a longer recovery period.

Since I don’t have any long races coming up until October, I started googling and reading (this and this, for example) and sure enough, interval training appeared to be the way to go if I wanted to run faster. But as I read more and more, I started seeing mentions here and there that interval training didn’t just affect speed, but also built muscle and caused fat loss.

I started searching specifically for articles about interval training and fat loss, and I found so many that I’m not sure how I didn’t know about this. One particular study showed that interval training resulted in, among other things, belly fat loss, in much less time than regular workouts. I was sold.

Today I dusted my sneakers off (I don’t think I’ve jogged since early March) and hit the road. But only for ten minutes. The only time I ever full-out run is for the subway, so I didn’t want to hurt myself.

I programmed ten minutes of intervals into my Runstastic app – one minute of jogging, alternating with thirty seconds of running as fast as I could manage. Thirty seconds never seemed like that long of a time to me before, but today those thirty-second intervals seemed to stretch out for miles. I did it though, and at the end of the ten-minute workout I felt like I had just jogged for several miles.


I’m going to try to do this three times a week, coupled with some mild weight training (I don’t want to neglect my arms while my legs get a workout!). But I’m making another big change as well: I’m taking a break from the FastDiet, and from eating dessert with breakfast.

The FastDiet has served me well. But like anything, I think my body eventually got used to it. Aside from decreased calories two days a week, the FastDiet had helped me be more mindful of what I was eating those other five days. Well, that mindfulness seems to have faded. I’ve caught myself totally pigging out a bunch of times in the past couple of months.

I’m definitely going to go back to the FastDiet at some point – I’m hoping that after a break, it will have an effect again. But right now, after over a year, it doesn’t seem to be doing much at all.

As for eating dessert with breakfast, the beauty of that was not only did it help to curb cravings later in the day, but I rarely wanted more dessert after breakfast.

Then I got the ice cream maker. I’ve gained about five pounds since I did. Those pounds were totally worth it, because my ice cream is delicious. And if I could sit down and have an ice cream cone with breakfast, I would. But that’s not how it works. I never ever want ice cream first thing in the morning. So in addition to eating some kind of chocolate with breakfast, I’ve also been having ice cream later in the day. Usually after the kids go to bed. I’d completely gotten out of the habit of eating anything after dinner. It’s more of a habit than a craving, but whatever it is it’s extra calories I didn’t used to eat, so the huge breakfasts with a candy bar have to go, at least until I’m off of this ice cream kick.

So, for now, it will just be the interval/ice cream/try not to pig the fuck out plan. We’ll see how that goes. In the past exercise alone has never really helped me lose weight (in fact, I usually gain in the two months leading up to a half marathon). But I’ve never done this kind of exercise, so I’m optimistic!


  1. says

    Amy – I usually do a form of interval training when I run… usually 5-10 minutes of running and 2-3 minutes of walking. A friend who is a trainer advised me to use this to train. I have a 10K this weekend… I will definitely be walking and running in order to finish.

    • says

      @Ann: That’s how I’ve gotten through most of my half marathons! Incidentally, my fastest time was the one were I did one minute of walking, thirty seconds of jogging for 13 miles. But this is a little different. The “slower” intervals are my usual jogging speed, and the “faster” thirty second intervals are running flat-out as fast as I can go. I would NOT be able to keep this up for very long. I’m hoping to work up to twenty minutes.

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