Motivation Week! No time to exercise? Try a quickie.

Stardate: June 11, 2014. Location: A high school track in Seattle where my track club meets up on Wednesday evenings. Situation: This workaholic runner wants to get her butt kicked by some long distance intervals. But her coaches have other ideas.

Enter the Quickie.

The “Quickie” isn’t a workout. It’s a mindset.

It’s what happens when you think you need to get in a long workout, or an intense workout, or a long intense workout, in order for it to “count,” in whatever cosmic report-card kind of way you track your workouts…and then you’re presented with an opportunity to do something, um, quicker.

Urgent message from Every48: Not every workout has to be equally long, or equally hard. Quickies can work just as well - and sometimes, they're just a really good idea. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Urgent message from Every48: Not every workout has to be equally long, or equally hard. Quickies can work just as well – and sometimes, they’re just a really good idea. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Last night, my track coaches presented us with a workout that was super-short-feeling (even though we still spent an hour at the track). The intervals were very quick; the longest one was 300 meters, or 3/4 of the way around a standard-sized track. There were walking breaks, a set of 50-meter repeats, and just generally a very “quick” feel to the whole evening. My Garmin didn’t even break five miles for the whole shebang. And yet, I woke up this morning feeling strong and refreshed. My body knew I worked out yesterday.

A quickie might mean doing a 20-minute yoga DVD when you had your heart set on an hour-long class but couldn’t get to the gym that day. Or it might mean doing a shorter speed walk or jog in the park – maybe with some calisthenics mixed in every few minutes. You might huff and puff, but still doubt that the workout is valuable because you’re doing less work (you think) than you usually do. You might think that when it comes to working out, quantity equals quality.

Nope.

Quantity does not necessarily equal quality when it comes to workouts.

Don't do a "junk workout" just to say you worked out, or to check a mark on an imaginary checkbox. Instead, try a quickie: high-quality, focused, but shorter in time, or effort, or both. (Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Don’t do a “junk workout” just to say you worked out, or to check a mark on an imaginary checkbox. Instead, try a quickie: high-quality, focused, but shorter in time, or effort, or both. (Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

In running, we call the miles you do “just to get the mileage in” by a great, descriptive name. They’re called junk miles, because they don’t do anything for you other than allow you to check a box off that says “I ran today.” You might be fatigued, you might be fighting off a cold, but whatever the reason, when your body says “Don’t do that long workout right now,” listening to it is a really good thing to do.

And sometimes, you wind up doing a quickie not because you’re tired – but because a coach or a teacher decides to mix it up a bit and just do something different. Nothing wrong with that. The official concept is called muscle confusion – challenging muscles in different ways to stimulate them to grow and adapt to the new challenge. It’s a term normally associated with strength training, but I’ve experienced great gains in my overall health and my running speed by mixing up my running training exactly the way my coaches did last night.

But even more than the physical value of these workouts, I think there’s a brain thing going on too. For those of us who can get “set in our ways” about how we “should” work out, mixing in some workouts that seem easier, less intense, or slower can actually re-energize us and get us ready for the next longer, more intense workout.

That’s why I’m talking about quickies during Motivation Week. If your motivation is waning, just try something different – maybe even something a little easier than what you’re used to doing. I bet your next workout will feel just a little sharper, just a little better. You’ll feel more there. I’m already looking forward to my next run, because I feel strong – and well-rested, too.

Bottom line: I liked my quickie last night. Try one. You never know…you might like it too.

Yesterday’s #Every48 workout: A TRACK workout with my buds and coaches. About 1-1/2 miles of warmup, 1/2 mile of cooldown, and a whole lot of “quickie” repeats in between – everything from 50 meters to 300 meters. Slept well and woke up today energized and rarin’ to go!

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