I'm taking a bit of a break from running at the moment to let my lower legs repair and recover a bit. I've been going a bit mashuga recently and haven't really given my feet and legs a chance to recover properly. As a result the little niggles one can expect from first starting running barefoot (or almost) are not clearing up completely between runs. I don't want these to develop into full on injuries, so I'm taking another enforced break from running.

Now I don't want to just stop exercising completely and sit on my arse, however I do still want to keep my cardio levels up and use this time to burn off as much fat as I can. Moving to barefoot (or almost) has meant I've had to keep my mileage quite low, so I don't really get a chance to burn much of my excess weight off. I've been putting in some time in the gym between runs, but it's not been enough - I've noticed my weight creeping back up.

So I'm using this enforced break from running to try out this "Tabata technique/protocol" I've read about in various places on the net.

The Tabata protocol was devised by Dr. Izumi Tabata and his team at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo and is a 4 minute intense set made up of 8x 20 second maximum intensity intervals with 10 seconds rest between each interval.

I started off with this and soon found just one 4 minute workout was no where near enough for me. I hardly built up a sweat in those 4 minutes, so I've extended it a bit further and devised the following training regime.

WARNING: Do not jump straight into this workout. This is what I do. You may not be able to do this straight away, so start gently and slowly. You will hurt afterwards and I don't want to be responsible for hurting someone or for causing a heart attack.
  • Monday: 30 minute tabata rowing intervals comprised of:
    • 2 mins slow and very gentle rowing (this is my warm up too)
    • 4 min tabata set (20 sec as fast as possible, 10 sec slow or stopped, repeat x8)
    • Repeat the above 6 mins 5 times making a total of 30 mins
    • Cool down and stretch (I don't time this as some days I cooldown quicker than others)
  • Tuesday: Full body tabata gym workout comprised of:
    • Warm up
    • 3 sets of hanging pullups. I use good controlled form here and do as many reps as I can per set. I stop when I can't get my chin over the bar anymore.
    • 2 sets of 4 min tabata clean and press (20 sec of reps, 10 sec stopped, repeat x8) with a 2 min rest between each set. I don't do the olympic bum-to-floor style, I just life the barbell to my shoulders and then press it over my head. That's one rep.
    • 2 sets of 4 min tabata machine chest press (20 sec of reps, 10 sec stopped, repeat x8). I use a machine here to be safe. My arms and chest may get very very tired and I really don't fancy dropping a weight onto my face or chest.
    • 2 sets of 4 min alternating lunges (20 sec of reps, 10 sec stopped, repeat x8). I hold a dumbell in each hands for these. I use lifting straps too as my grip would give long before I'm finished each set.
    • Cool down and stretch
  • Wednesday: Rest - I want to lose weight, not kill myself
  • Thursday: 30 mins tabata cycling intervals as per the rowing intervals
  • Friday: Repeat Tuesday's workout.
  • Saturday & Sunday: Rest

I've managed one week so far and boy is it tough, but I feel fantastic afterwards. Each session burns in the region of 500-800kcal, depending on how much effort I put in and the weights etc involved and takes about 35-40 minutes.

With lack of running and my commitment to weightlifting over the years my weight has fluctuated from the rather lean 64kg I was when running as an 19 year to the mighty 98kg I weighed in the peak of my weightlifting phase. I now sit slightly towards the top end of this range at 89kg. I know I'll never get back to 64kg, and quite frankly really don't want to be that skinny again, but I do think I could get down to a more reasonable 75-85kg. This enforced break, coupled with the fact I'm not drinking much beer at the moment (my wife and I are expecting our first child, so I'm being supportive by cutting back on the amount of beer I drink) and this pretty intense exercise regime, should help me towards that goal.

I'll keep you all updated.