September 1, 2004

Cardio Training for the AIDS Run and Walk

BY David Bohn ("Fitness")

Well, we know this was a stinker of a summer; it’s basically over at this point. But don’t worry, once you put away your air conditioner, that’s when you’ll need it for three weeks! Grumbling aside, there’s still plenty of fitness to be done in the Windy City. On that happy note, there’s a great fundraising event coming up this month called the AIDS Walk/Run Chicago on September 18th (Event Details). The Walk/Run helps to fund several organizations here in Chicago such as critical prevention programs, healthcare, housing, legal advocacy services, and HIV/AIDS public policy and advocacy efforts for the thousands of men, women, and children living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. Now that we know the benefits of contributing to such an event, how do you do that in style?

As with any fitness regimen, you need to make sure you’re in good enough health to do what you want to do without injuring yourself. Now, as this is at the end of the summer, I hope that all of you have been nice and active enjoying the fall weather. If you have not been active, begin by getting a check-up from your physician. Remember any time you’re going to be walking or running for any sort of significant distance, you need to have a good pair of running shoes. Try to have shoes that actually fit well as opposed to looking the prettiest. Businesses such as Universal Sole, Vertel’s and Fleet Feet are all great places for getting informed help on shoe selection.

If you already have a program in place, go ahead and continue with what you’re doing. The AIDS Walk is not your normal competitive road race; it’s more about raising money for a good cause, networking, etc. For new exercisers, your workout program is going to depend upon what you want to accomplish. If you plan to walk, establish a good walking program; starting off 2 – 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes, increasing the number of walks to 4 or 5 and time by 5 – 10 % per week. Usually the heart rate will not increase significantly, so if you are trying to burn calories, your walks will need to expand to 45 minutes or more.

For those who want to jog or run, begin with a similar program of 2 – 3 times a week at a comfortable pace. If you are just beginning to jog, then alternate between jogging for 5 minutes and walking for a minute. Continue this practice, expanding the time you jog until you can jog throughout your entire run.

For performance-based running, training runs are a little more complex. Going out and logging miles is going to be your bread and butter routine, however, to add some speed, you will want to incorporate interval training. Interval training is essentially where you work to spike your heart rate for a short amount of time through submaximal effort, and then give the body a chance to recover before you repeat that interval again. Interval work can be best accomplished on a track; however, it can also be done on a treadmill or some type of straight-away outside. The length of your intervals depends on the distance that you want to compete in; the general rule being the longer the race, the longer the interval. For example, for the 5k AIDS Walk, you could try a program of 2 – 4 400’s (400 meters), 2 – 4 200’s and 4 100’s. The rest is 1-to-1; meaning as long as it takes you to run the 400 is how long you rest until your next spring. If this is too hard (which it should be), then increase your rest time. On a treadmill, a 400 is approximately 60 – 75 seconds, a 200 25 – 40 seconds and a 100 15 – 25 (all dependant upon your fitness level). Obviously the shorter the time you take to run the interval, the harder the interval is going to be.

So, by going out and covering some ground, whether it’s walking or jogging, you will move your body to better health and fitness. If you are disciplined about your diet, the weight will gradually begin to come off as you expend more calories than you consume. If you are looking for a bit more fitness development, adding interval training to your road work will make you a much better, and stronger, runner. So go out, get healthy and help support a great cause.