The lure of high-intensity workouts is such that we often ignore how doing something less intense but more consistently is likely better for our health. And how the media and other people extoll the virtues of HIIT and running doesn’t help either.
My running regime lasted more than a couple of years. During that time, I completed more than 1000 kilometers on Nike+ and tried multiple tactics to boost my stamina and speed. I did my first and only 10 km run earlier this year. Despite running for so long, I almost always found it unpleasant. No matter what tactic I tried, I consistently diluted my runs with walking.
I joined a nearby tennis academy about a year ago to bring some joy back into my workouts. Tennis is a moderate-intensity activity unless you are rallying all through your practice. How you play tennis – drills, rallies, matches – depends a lot on your coach, other players, and conditions. On average, it ends up being more intense than brisk walking but less than running. But it’s way, way high on the fun quotient.
Because tennis is so much fun, I have been able to be more consistent at it than running. But I cannot play tennis every day of the year even if I want to. It’s a routine that’s easily interrupted, eg. when going on a trip. And I travel quite frequently.
Having a proxy activity when I’m unable to play tennis is important to avoid slipping up on my health goals. Until a couple of weeks back, my proxy was running. But switching from a moderate to a high-intensity workout is not easy. And because of that chances of me skipping a few days were usually high.
Two weeks ago, during my trip to Jalandhar, I tried something new – jogging. For the sake of consistency, I asked myself to jog so stupidly and mockingly slow that it felt like walking in a park. And to make things even more pleasant, I would not start jogging right away; I would start with a 1 km walk and then switch to a comfortable jog. It worked!
Today I completed a 4 km jog in my society at an average pace of 6 mins 58 secs per kilometer (that’s about 8.6 km/hr). It’s better than a sizeable number of my past runs. It was quite comfortable. Again, my goal with jogging is not to compete with myself but simply to enjoy some outside time while making my heart do some work. So, it’s unlikely I’ll let my jogs transform into runs even as my stamina gets better.
I just want to enjoy working out. Consistently rather than occasionally.