Spice things up with intervals

Are you at a point in your training where you need to up your mileage? Or maybe things are getting a little stale. Well, if you want to mix it up in a fun and challenging way on the bike, on the road or in the pool, I have some useful tips for you that I'm just discovering myself.

I'm training for the Chicago Marathon with my friend JoJo. She put together our plan, and I love having a little sheet of paper that tells me what to do every day. What I find so fun about our training is the different kinds of workouts. I'm not gonna lie to you, our Wednesday long runs are not my favorite. But what has surprised me the most is that sometimes my interval and track workouts add up to more mileage than the "long runs"! More miles, yet more fun? I know what you're thinking, but trust me, it's true.

Recently, for example, our track workout was a 12x200. We warmed up with two miles of easy running and then alternated 200 meters fast and 200 meters easy, 12 times. We finished it off with another easy two-mile warm-down. All told, I had run seven miles. Crazy!

Another day I did a 7x400 and the same thing happened: I was surprised by the end mileage -- it didn't feel like I had run that much. During the run, I wasn't thinking about aches and pains. I wasn't obsessed with how far I had gone or how much farther I had to go, I was simply concentrating on each individual 200 or 400 and working from there. I was breaking it down. And that reminded me of what I used to do every day in the pool.

I see people hop into the pool and swim for an hour at the same pace. In and out, no stopping -- that is their workout. That's OK sometimes, but adding sets and intervals can really liven things up, and be good for both your mind and body.

So, take a look at the week ahead of you. Don't go into your training mindlessly -- pick some fun intervals and challenge yourself a bit. I will be cheering for you every step, pedal and stroke of the way!

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