Being a swimmer for almost 18 years gave me a soft spot for cardio training. Nothing like staring at a black line on the bottom of the pool for hours on end! Even though it felt like torture, there was something very rewarding about how my body felt after swim practice.I no longer have any interest in going near a pool these days, but I do want to feel the “high” in some other way. With this goal, I started running a few times per week last summer.
At first, I felt like I was gasping the whole time. The way you breathe with an elevated heart rate while strength training had a very different feel. I went from running 1 day per week for about 3 miles to running about 3 days per week running somewhere between 3-10 miles per outing. By ramping up in this manner, my body fatigue determined the length of my run because my lungs and heart could have gone forever! Like we all do from time to time, I flew too close to the sun and ended up with a foot injury. Who knew the “fish out of water” was a real thing!
After taking time off to heal my foot, I started to miss this cardio portion of my training... but not enough to run in sub-freezing temperatures. I made the decision to start rowing and devised a plan that would have me rowing for less than 30 minutes 2 times per week. This was in addition to my 3 strength programs that our wonderful trainer Brandt was writing for me. The protocol was 6,000 meters each time I rowed, broken up differently during the week. On Tuesdays I did two 2,000m segments with 2 minutes of rest between each one and on Thursdays, six 1,000m segments with 1 minute of rest. The goal was to hold a steady pace throughout each segment while going faster every round. On the final segment, I would finish with the fastest pace I could hold. It took me a couple tries to know how to pace my body, but eventually I got it nailed down. I wrote down my times each week which are outlined in a few graphs below.
I just finished my 12th week of this programming and have found a few significant changes. First, after about a month I had to tell Brandt that I could handle more intensity in my strength programs. I was getting through them faster because I didn’t have to rest as long to get my heart and respiratory rates down. I can’t tell you how crazy I felt to be asking for more work….seriously?!?! What is wrong with me!!!??? I also found that I recovered from the rowing sessions much quicker as time went on. I think I laid on the mat for 30 minutes after my first session. Finally, as you will see on the graphs below, I was able to hold a faster pace as the weeks went on. Of course, a couple of the sessions were sub-par because my mean trainer made me do a lot of lower body work the day before or something else related to being human, but consistently the trend was faster times each week.
I'll be starting a new protocol this week that will progress more from one month to the next based on how my body is responding. It is important to remember that in order to get true cardiovascular benefits, there must be consistency in the programming. Just like the Spindle programs you do now, cardio programs progress as you get better, but there is less variability week to week as compared to strength programs.
We have consistently been asked by our members about more cardio options and, now, we are excited to offer an option for personalized, progressive cardiovascular programming built alongside your Spindle training program. My experience has been positive on so many levels and we are excited to provide this service as an add on to your membership.
If you are interested in hearing more about this program, feel free to reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to your programmer to get started. We can create these programs for whatever equipment you have access to (maybe at home, another gym, work etc…) but you can also do them at Spindle during non prime-time hours (6am, 5:30-7pm). The reason for this restriction is that you will be on the row machine for 20-30 minutes which, during busy times, makes it difficult for other members to incorporate rowing into their regular programs.
Here is the data from my cardio program of the last 12 weeks: