Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Intervals Timer (and disclaimer)

I participated in Joyride Bicycles' "sweatfest" sessions last winter. You could call those eight Saturdays "spinning classes" much the same way one would call a Kenworth a "truck". It was intense, to say the least.

Sydney Brown, our leader for those sessions, would yell at us to keep our heads up, even during intense sessions, and offered this advice: "Any bad habits you pick up on the trainer will translate to bad habits on the road."

When I would repeat the workouts on my own, I found myself mesmerized by my cyclecomputer, waiting for the time to tick away during intense workouts until it was time to recover. I'd have my headphones turned up in an effort to drown out "HEADS UP, PEOPLE" as my legs burned more and more.

I'm not going to let that happen this winter. I'm putting my laptop up on a stand, I'm firing up RhythmBox for some tunes, and I'm using my homebrewed intervals timer to keep my head up.

Before I go further, let me say that I am NOT a coach, nor am I a medical professional. Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program, then seek the advice of a coach who can point you to a good workout and help you determine if this is right for you.

I did this because I thought it was cool,  and thought others might want something like it.

Now that that's out of the way...

Above you will find a link for an intervals timer. The timer has four pre-set workouts. Each workout has a 10 minute warm up and a 10 minute cool down. Each is close to an hour in length so you don't burn out.

The first workout is a 2x20 minute "baseline" interval, with a 5 minute recovery in between. The 20 minute intervals are intended to be a light aerobic effort. You should be breathing deeply during the interval. If talking is difficult or labored, you're pushing too hard: you should be able to keep a conversation going. This workout is 1 hour and five minutes long.

The second workout is a 3x10 minute "tempo" interval, with 3 minute recoveries in between. You should be breathing hard, but consistently during these intervals. Talking should be difficult, but possible. This workout is 59 minutes long.

The third workout is a 4x6 minute "threshold" interval, with 2 minute recoveries in between. Breathing should begin to get difficult during the intervals and you might feel some burn in your legs. Talking. Should. Be. Tough. This workout is 50 minutes long.

The fourth workout should be done only if your heart is healthy. It is a 5x3 "anaerobic effort" interval with 3 minute recoveries in between. Breathing is going to be difficult, your legs should hate you more and more as the workout progresses. Talking will be impossible if you're pushing hard enough. This workout is 47 minutes long.

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