Experiments in cardio part 1

I awoke this morning to the sound of silence (wasn’t that a Simon and Garfunkel song?). The hotel was still mainly asleep.  It was just before 7AM.  A few hotel staff preparing breakfast on the balcony restaurant, but no one else was up. Early to get up for a holiday, but in recent months I seem to need less sleep. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m getting older? Maybe I’m fitter? Anyway I just don’t  need as much sleep as I used to.

I rolled out of bed feeling not so great.  There was a dull ache in my head and my stomach was a little queasy.  OK, I admit it.  I had a couple of drinks last night.  Well, a couple more than a couple.  Nothing crazy.  I am, however enjoying the idea of an aperitif.  A gin and tonic or two before dinner feels very civilised.  As well as the idea of an aperitif I am enjoying several actual aperatifs. Plus wine with dinner and a couple of glasses of Jonny Walker red label whisky that Sandy bought me at the airport.  Oh and that big Cuban cigar to go with the whiskey! I’m not a smoker and it’s a couple of times a year thing, but it feels so damn manly to have a big cigar with a whiskey. I glugged down a big drink of water and slipped into shorts, a vest and my running shoes and jogged to the beach.  It’s about 200 metres from the hotel room and I can see it now as I sit on the balcony typing this.  This morning I was going to try something different.  Beach sprints.

Now I’m not a natural lover of cardio. Short and big boned with a natural tendency towards the chubby.  I’m a classical endo-mesomorph http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endomorphic  .  I’ll never be a Mo Farar, but I can run.  Slowly, admittedly but I can.  And when I can force myself to do it, I have to admit it feels good.  Must be those happy dolphins we hear about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorphins .  But as much as long slow cardio around a summer park or a sunny beach can be bearable and perhaps even fun, winter is coming. 20 plus minutes on a treadmill or cross trainer bores the pants off me.   So I wanted to try something different, something that would be more interesting, or at the very least over quicker.  Sprints.  I’ve read a lot about HIIT in its various forms and have even dabbled with it on the treadmill after a workout now and again, but I’m thinking of trying it as my primary cardio this winter.  So off to the beach I trotted.

The sun was barely up, hidden behind a thin layer of cloud in the Turkish sky.  It’s October now, so it’s cooling down here. There was a slight breeze blowing of the sea.  I jogged around for 5 minutes to warm up, found two markers roughly 100 meters apart and slipped off my shoes.  The goal – 10 sets of 100m sprints, walking back between each one.

Well I’m not fast, I discovered that as well as not being Mo Farar I’m no Usain Bolt either.  Obviously the idea is not to go flat out from the start, but to build up speed as the sprints continue.  Like a built in warm up.  By the time you are maxing out around sprint 6 or 7 you’re tired so it’s not your absolute 100% maximum if you were in a race.  The idea is to make each sprint progressively harder.  Number 1, not too bad, but 20 seconds for 100m metres is not going to win me any medals.  By five I was puffing a bit on the way back, but nothing too taxing.  I needed to pick up the pace.  Sprints 6 through 10 were all out efforts.  9 and 10 I had to wait a few seconds after I got back to the starting point before I was ready to go.  But only a few seconds.

My initial impressions? If you are doing sprints you need to hit it hard. Really hard.  You’re not getting 20 to 40 minutes of continuous movement so you need to trade volume for intensity.  I think with the right intensity they will be great for pushing up your fitness levels, but are they any good for fat loss?  Time will tell.

I finished off with a 5 minute walk along the beach and 10 minutes of basic yoga moves that I found on the internet [insert You Tube yoga link].  This felt great but probably made me look like a complete idiot to the hotel staff who were now on the beach laying out the sunbeds.  But if you can’t look stupid on holiday when can you?  I walked back to the apartment and showered.  All in all it was a pretty good way to start the day. Now for some high intensity sunbathing.

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