Welcome to the 20 Street Light Challenge! This is something that I and a few of my clients have used for cardiovascular training. It is interval training with a twist - no need to keep your eye on a timer...but when that street light comes up get ready to kick it into high gear!
What Is Interval Training
It is cardiovascular training that alternates between periods of high-intensity work and low-intensity or rest. Interval training can be adjusted to an individual's level of training. The basics of interval training involve a work to rest ratio of 1:1 or 1:2 (i.e. run for 30 secs, rest for 30 secs). For a beginner, interval training would have a work to rest ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 (i.e. run for 30 secs, rest for 2 minutes). For an advanced athlete, the workload can be made more difficult by increasing the work to rest ratio to 2:1 or they can increase the resistance (i.e. run for 20 secs, rest for 10 secs).
Benefits of Interval Training
- More bang for your buck. Done properly, intervals will leave you dripping sweat and out of breathe. It's a great option for when you're short on time.
- Breaking through weight loss plateaus. Some studies have shown greater weight loss for those using interval training compared to those using endurance training.
- Decreased resting blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased insulin response --> better blood sugar control
- Improved performance because of:
- Increased VO2 max
- Decreased lactate accumulation
- Improved O2 use - your muscles will get better at extracting more of the O2 that is being pumped their way.
- The rest allows for more training time spent at your max/lactate threshold
- Better running economy
- Psychological benefits of mental "toughness" --> "When the going gets tough, the tough get going".
Want to give a go to interval training?
Here is a interval training challenge that you can do on the streets near your house. Getting off the treadmill allows you to fully push yourself without the restrictions of a treadmill. Get ready for a few leaps and bounds when you meet potholes and cracked sidewalks.
Bonus: No need for a stop watch or timer! All you need are street lights.
Tip: Don't just move your legs...PUSH off the ground with your feet. When sprinting I will tell myself "Push. Push. Push." to keep myself running explosively even when I'm beginning to fatigue.
The 20 Street Lights Challenge
- 5 minute warm- up: do a mix of light jogging, walking lunges and dynamic stretches
- 20 street light intervals: alternate between explosively running and walking from street light to street light
- How to: SPRINT HARD from one street light to the next and then walk to the next street light. Continue alternating between sprinting and walking, which gives you a 1:1 ratio. Towards the end the 'rest' interval will barely seem like enough for recovery.
- Beginner modification: you will likely need more rest, which would mean a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio. Run from one street light to the next and then walk for 3 or 4 street lights. As your recovery improves over the next few weeks try to decrease how many street lights you need to walk for.
- Advanced modification: If you've got what it takes try alternating between a 1:1 ratio and 2:1 ratio. Every second or third round try sprinting for 2 street lights and still only giving yourself one street light for recovery.
- 5 minute cool-down: do a mix off light jogging/walking and static stretches.
Do this workout 1-2 times a week. Interval training is not only very taxing mentally, but physically. We need to give our central nervous system enough time to recuperate and recover for the next round!
Can't wait to hear how the 20 street light challenge goes for you. Feel free to give your feedback!