Monday, April 9, 2012

Intervals Reveal Thrill of the Hill

      Lengthening hours of daylight are shifting my energy this month. I’m feeling the tug of summer, and hiking commitments ahead. Fresh momentum is pulsing into my walks. I noticed this shift last week as I approached an uphill slope midway through my neighborhood loop. It prompted me to lift my shoulders and pick up the pace a bit. Turn the slope into an interval!

     Thirty seconds into the uphill push I was ready to call it quits. How long had it been since I’d asked my body for this much effort? How long since I’d felt physically strong and balanced enough make these demands of mind and muscles? Several months, for sure, but not long enough to forget the rewards of interval workouts. It wasn’t pain that urged me to slow my pace. It was the whine of a body out of practice.

     “One-two-three-four, One, two, three, four,” I responded mentally, counting my footsteps to block the protests. “One-two-three-four, one-two-three-four,” to the top of the climb. Total time, maybe 60 seconds. The next half block of level surface allowed recovery of breath and focus before a second slope rose before me, shorter but steeper than the first. “One-two-three-four, One-two-three-four,” I chanted, cutting short the protests as I launched into a second interval. On the long descent that followed, I savored the vitality coursing through veins and brain as a result of two minutes of extra effort. Was it easy? No! But I repeated it this week!

     Short intervals that push you beyond the comfort of a familiar pace bring rewards that linger in a surge of wellbeing, and in the strengthening of cardiovascular, muscular, and mental health. Why not give it a try? You don’t need to find a hill for an interval. Use your watch and simply speed up for 60 seconds to a pace that raises mental protests. Set your sights on a lamppost or down the street and use that as an interval target. There are many ways to integrate short, fast walks into your routine.

     Then, pay attention to how you feel at the end of two or three brisk intervals. Take time to savor the satisfaction of reaching for more.

Discover more ways to add variety to your spring walks on Take a Walk page of my website. "Like" The Spirited Walker on Facebook to get Facebook notices of new posts.

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