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How to Maintain Your Fitness and Keep Weight Off During the Holiday Season

How to Maintain Your Fitness and Keep Weight Off During the Holiday Season by IntlAssnWomenRunners

During the holiday season, many runners are strapped for time but not for calories. How can you keep your hard-earned fitness and not gain weight under these conditions?

The answer is to substitute the CESW (Convenient Efficient Speed Workout) for one or more your regular runs.

Why?  This workout really cranks up your metabolism so that you burn calories long after finishing.

Convenient? You can perform the CESW right out your front door, without having to travel to a track or gym. You can also run the CESW indoors on a treadmill.

Efficient? The entire workout including warmup and cooldown takes only 30-40 minutes.


The Workout

  1. Warm up for 10 minutes by running at your regular pace.
  2. Transition from warmup to the actual speed workout by running striders (also called pickups). Pick a stretch of about 90 metres (yards). During the first 30 metres (yards), accelerate gradually until you running at 70% of an all out effort, i.e. a hard but still comfortable pace. Hold the pace for the middle 30 metres (yards). Decelerate gradually during the last 30 metres (yards) until you come to rest. Run 4 – 6 of these accelerations.
  3. The actual workout: sprint like mad for 30 seconds. Think back to your childhood when the schoolyard bully was chasing after you and you ran with all your might to get away from him. That’s how you run here. After 30 seconds, jog slowly for 60 seconds to recover. If you are new to speed work, run four or five of these maximal exertions, each one followed by a 60 second recovery jog. More experienced speedsters can start with 6 or 8.
  4. Cool down by running slowly for 10 minutes.

Insert at least one day of easy running (or rest) between a CESW and another hard/long run.

An article that appeared in the April 2010 issue of Runner’s World corroborates the effectiveness of running short bursts of high intensity intervals in burning calories and weight control. In “Incredible Weight-Loss Myths Exposed!” (whoever dreamt up that title must have graduated at the head of the class in Cosmo Title Writing School), author Matthew Kadey debunks the myth that exercising in the fat-burning zone (50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate) is the best way to run for caloric expenditure and weight control.

“When you exercise at this low intensity, your body draws energy from fat. As your heart rate goes up, more energy comes from carbs.” So then, why is this not an effective method to burn calories and control weight? Quoting coach Jason Karp: “Running at higher intensities causes you to burn a lower percentage of fat calories in favour of carbs, but you use more total calories.” Kadey adds “And that’s the key to slimming down. Plus, since you torch more total calories, the absolute amount of fat burned actually increases too.  So it pays to pick up the pace”.

After the holidays, we urge those of you who run every workout at the same pace to incorporate one high intensity run per week into your routine. The CESW will:

  • Add variety to your running program
  • Burn calories effectively and efficiently
  • Help maintain your ideal weight
  • Improve your running speed............ all in a minimal amount running time.

Bennett Cohen (the Savvy Runner) and Gail Gould are the Founders and Presidents of the International Association of Women Runners (IAWR). To learn more about this global community of women who share a passion for running, visit

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Posted by: IntlAssnWomenRunners on Dec 28, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Visits: 1284 | Posted in: Train


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