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Make additions to cardio walking to kick it up a notch

Here's a sample training program suitable for someone who has been cardio walking for a few months and is ready to increase intensity:

Day Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Emphasis Resistance Intensity Duration Intensity Rest Resistance Duration
Activity Spinning class or bicycling for an hour Interval training for 1 to 2 miles 3 to 4 miles of ratio movement 3 to 4 miles of threshold movement Low-intensity activity, such as gardening 5 sets of 1 to 2 minutes up hills or stairs; recovery going down 4 to 5 miles of ratio movement

New Year's resolution time is here, and if you followed my Walk to Run program in 2010, you might be resolving to kick your cardio-walking routine into a higher gear.

Running could be the next logical step for you. Miles of cardio walking have made your legs, core and upper body strong. Your aerobic capacity has soared, and along with it, your sense of vigor and well-being. Maybe you've even completed a distance event such as a 5K or a half marathon, which empowered you with a sense of accomplishment and a desire to improve.

As you've gotten stronger, you might find it feels more natural to jog or run. But not everyone prefers or can afford to put their total body weight — ever so briefly — on one leg, over and over again. Knee problems, back problems, arthritis in the feet, scoliosis, heart rate issues and excess weight are all factors that could make it wiser to stick with cardio walking.

But running does offer clear advantages to consider. You are moving quicker, firing up your metabolic rate. Running requires deeper, faster breathing, improving cardiovascular ability. For some, changing between walking and running can prevent overuse injuries, because the muscle groups used are slightly different. A running workout takes less time, and we can all use that.

If you do decide to add running to your workout, you'll find many similarities between a walking program and a running program.

Let's review the four critical components of distance training:

• Duration — the average amount of time or miles you can cardio walk or run.

• Frequency — the number of days each week you work out.

• Resistance — the conditions that might add to the difficulty of your workout, such as hills, wind, soft ground, heat or rain.

• Intensity — the speed of your gait, defined in steps per minute, stride length and the time it takes you to go a given distance.

As you go from cardio walking to running — or even if you decide to stick with walking, but increase your speed, here are ways you can add resistance and/or intensity:

• Hill training is the most functional way to add resistance plus develop specific leg and arm strength for both walking and running. They're scarce around here, but you can always find a bridge, a parking garage, stadium steps or office building stairs. Going up the steps gets your heart rate up; going back down allows for recovery.

• Ratio training increases intensity by mixing jogging or running with cardio walking. Try alternating two minutes of walking with two minutes of jogging until you've been moving for a half-hour, or 3 miles, for instance.

• Interval training. Go to a track, or find a 1-mile distance and divide it into quarter-mile lengths. Time yourself as you run or cardio walk as fast as you can for one-quarter mile. Rest for an equal time. Go another quarter mile, rest an equal time. Then go for a half mile, rest an equal time. Do a quarter mile, rest, then another quarter mile and rest. All told, you'll have gone for 1 1/2 miles at your top pace.

• Threshold movement. As you cardio walk or jog at an easy pace, throw in 15 to 30 seconds of fast-effort movement every five minutes. Then resume your easy pace.

• Cross training. Activities such as biking, spinning or aqua jogging will increase leg power because of the added resistance of pulling up, pushing forward and pushing down.

Lynn Gray is the founder of Take ... The First Step in Tampa. Check out her website at or email her at


If you missed Lynn's Walk to Run program last year in Personal Best, you'll find the 10-part series at

Make additions to cardio walking to kick it up a notch 12/31/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 31, 2010 3:30am]
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