For the last 8 months or so, my cardio has been a 5 day a week experience. 20 minutes on the elliptical or spinning bike with a couple bouts of intensity on the versa climber added in there.
I struggle with consistency in my cardio. It seems like I can keep up my goal of running 3-5 days a week for a 30 minute minimum for several months, particularly when I have a longer event for which I’m training, and then…..getting a bit more rest seems so appealing. I didn’t start running until my mid 40s and have always used a run/walk combination. Now after over 20 years of running various distances from a mile to a marathon, my current goal distance is between 2 - 6 miles. The intervals allow me to regulate the intensity as well as my attitude. I currently monitor my heart rate, pace, distance and intervals through a Garmin Forerunner watch.
After a non-running vacation and time off due to sickness, I am in the struggle phase – but thanks to my running friends who are willing to adjust their pace, I ran both Saturday and Sunday this weekend and I’ll be up and at it again Monday morning. That’s the thing with cardio – lack of consistency can make it feel like you are starting all over. I have to admit I know that feeling too well!
I enjoy running outdoors more than doing cardio indoors. When I use the EQUIVITA treadmill or cross trainer, I spend a lot of time in my head making bargains and trying to convince myself that I can push for just 1 more minute. Although I run on my own, I really look forward to getting together with my running friends. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t. It just matters that we get together and move.
For me, cardio is not my favorite piece of a workout and I'm not good at it! That being said, last spring I went out and got a new bike to ride and I'm loving it!! It definitely gets my heart rate up and I can go for an easy ride, or push myself and go for a hard ride for a good sweat session! This time of year is hard and I struggle with cardio, simply because the bike has been good to me and my knees and this weather makes it tough to get outside and ride. Getting the bike has been helpful to my thought process on cardio in that it certainly makes it a bit easier on my body AND I actually WANT to go out and ride!!! Bring on the spring sunshine and warmer temps!!!
While I realize the value of cardio (aerobic exercise) is measured by heart rate training, and that there are a host of trackers available for this purpose, I select and ‘dose’ aerobic exercise for how it makes me feel. I like to feel my body power. I like to feel connected, electric and vital. ALSO, I like to push a sense of my control over some of my body systems.
My Power Trip: That is the choice to do a high-intensity interval session (often a half hour) on a spin bike. I also enjoy the sweat from an interval run, often using the treadmill. While both are intense, they work my body/mind differently. When I know I need to finish my cardio with a sharp mind, I use Brian K. Mitchell’s Stayin’ Fit Spin Class on YouTube. Good music and solid instruction, makes me feel like I’m dancing on that spin cycle, meanwhile I sweat and my quads burn! At the end of this, I swear I feel as smart as I am possibly going to be. For example I like to time a spin cycling session before a more demanding brain work session, like an afternoon of writing or strategic planning.
If you want to get a bit more technical, to experience burn in the muscle of the quads, one has to accumulate lactate in the blood which happens in the muscles at a higher level of exercise intensity/energy demand. Your body has to clear the lactate from the blood and working muscles and process it back to usable fuels. Lactate threshold is the point at which production outstrips the clearing process and higher levels of blood lactate start to accumulate in the muscles.
Interestingly, around 2006 you start to see a shift in the view that lactate in the muscle was simply a limiting element to an athlete, but rather the newer understandings suggest that lactate is a valuable energy substrate for various physiological systems, such as the brain, heart and skeletal muscle. Lactate generation has been identified as advantageous within these systems not only during exercise, but also at rest!!! I thought the smarts thing was simply the byproduct of feeling like a cycle-warrior.
In the end, I think it’s nice how the investment in a spin class—a dose of cardio that makes me feel tough and happy, can often take down the amount of time it takes me to accomplish a heady work project, and finally delivers me a more complete sense of rest. Earned rest, the very best~
Cardio is one of my favorite forms of exercise. I can remember going for hikes with family and friends from a young age. Then, too, for a few years there was the Sunday bike ride that my dad would get us out on. Later came swimming on a team, which I enjoyed almost as much as the friendships I found in it. Today, not only do I enjoy doing laps at the pool but also biking and running, which has made triathlons gain their appeal. The cherry on top of it all is Capoeira—a Brazilian art form that combines movement (cardio, strength and balance), percussion instruments and chanting. Getting those vocal chords to chime in can be a bit of diaphragm workout too, can’t it?