2012-06-18

Week 2: When To Add Intensity

Last week I initiated a new training regimen for myself. This is not marathon training, nor is it beginner training. This is some steady training to keep myself in shape as I get settled in my new home. As I described last week, the various obligations and tasks I have to complete related to moving to a new country are keeping me very busy, which means I am training on a more limited time schedule.

My first week went okay. It was a bit of a bump up in terms of strength training, relative to what I had been doing previously. My overall running mileage continues to be low; but that is by necessity, due to time constraints and the summer heat around here.

Underpinning this training regimen is the basic philosophy idea that I am not training for a race any time soon, but that I would like to maintain as high a level of fitness as possible. I therefore have a little ground to give when it comes to running mileage, and a little ground to gain when it comes to strength training. I will focus on building some good upper body strength, and perhaps a little muscle while I’m at it. I’ll take the running as it comes; currently, I only have a short period of time in the early morning in which to get any running done at all. There isn’t enough time in the evenings for a good, solid run, and I have to get out the door as early as possible in the morning in order to beat the rush hour traffic both to and from work.

Increase the Effort, or Not?
I would like to provide a small window into the decision-making process in terms of knowing when to add intensity and when not to.

I started last week with the understanding that I needed to add intensity. I knew it was time because my daily strength training regimen had become incredibly easy for me. It was no longer a physical challenge. The only difficult part was having enough will power to do what I needed to do every day. I was starting to stagnate. My body was no longer showing signs of progress, and in fact was showing signs of deterioration. (If you never increase the intensity, the efficiency of your movements will start to undermine the physical effort involved, giving you an ever-easier workout.) Clearly, I needed a new challenge.

Having undertaken it for a week, I can now pause to assess whether or not to increase the intensity some more. The answer is “Not yet,” but why?

First, I do not yet feel comfortable with my new routine. It is still difficult to complete every time I do it. Second, my blood sugar hasn’t normalized to my new routine yet. (You non-diabetics have the disadvantage of less information in this case.) Third, I am never quite sure if I am going to be able to complete the whole workout every day, at least not without compromising the next day’s workout.

On the plus side, my muscles and joints are not at all sore. So while I have increased the intensity, I have not increased it to the point of pain. It’s always a tough balance to strike, and it looks like I managed to do it this time.