New Hope, MN

Train Smarter, not harder

The Top 3 things you need to know to train smarter, not harder!

As I’ve recently begun adventures in running, I stick to a pretty regimented training plan aimed at improving my overall speed as well as my stamina.  I’m a stickler for rule following and therefore a regimented training plan works nicely for me, however there’s always an exception to the rule…right?? Well that was my thought as I embarked over and over again on a particular interval run that I kept failing at. You see, it wanted me to warm up at a pace that seemed so ridiculously slow to me that I felt like a fraud even calling it “running". So, I ignored the slower paced warm-up, and would run at what I considered my warm-up pace. Every run I failed at the 3 sets of two-minute sprint intervals. I just kept feeling like a failure and struggled to understand why my body wasn’t able to perform at the level I was asking of it. What I didn’t understand was that I was over-training my body in warm-up and therefore unable to produce the level of performance I was being asked to.  Essentially, I was training harder, not smarter.

Once I realized that running warm-up at the slower stated pace was vital to my ability to complete the sprints, failure has been far less frequent! Here are 3 things you should know and understand to train smarter, not harder:


  1. Utilize HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to teach the body to become a fat burning machine.

We want our bodies to utilize fat as our main energy source while working out. In order for this to happen, we have to train for extended periods of time in the “fat burning zone”. In the fat burning zone, one is breathing heavily, but systematically and could breath only through their nose on occasion. This would have been my warm-up portion of the run.

Then we utilize shorter periods of high intensity sets to push our VO2 max (the volume of oxygen our heart is capable of intaking in a set period of time). Our breathing when we are training in the high intensity zone feels very irregular, you may find you have to occasionally gasp for air and often times breathing is accompanied with a grunt or whining sound. Training for short periods of time in high intensity zones allows our hearts to go for longer periods of time in the fat burning zone – essentially the high intensity sets help us to build stamina. 


  1. Repeated training for extended amounts of time in the high intensity zone during your daily workouts is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to our purpose of utilizing fat.

Heavy labored breathing makes us “feel” like we are getting a great workout in, but that’s not the case inside our bodies. When the body is repeatedly subjected to extended periods of high intensity work, it turns to stored energy not fat as an energy source – stored energy is energy your body has “set aside” in case of’s the energy that one uses in “fight or flight mode” this is how humans have lifted cars off people in the middle of a crisis or spent hours running back and forth saving people or themselves in disasters. You always have a reserve tank to get you out of trouble...using up your stored energy will leave you feeling “hung over” as it depletes your system of all back-ups.  Stored energy is what takes distance runners to the end...and on a race day (bike/run/whatever it may be) you likely will spend extended time in the “high intensity zone”...but this should be a once in a while thing, NOT a daily habit.


  1. Long before your body will let you use up your stored energy on a daily basis...your brain overrides and begins to pace your body

This is what was happening to me on my runs, my brain was pacing my body so as not to use up all my stored energy because I was training for too long with too high of a HR, therefore when it came time to do the sprints, my brain would not allow me to go “all out” it would shut my body down and convince me that I couldn’t go a step further or my legs were going to buckle underneath me.  My body would have done the work, but my brain is wired to ensure I keep a “back-up” energy source and when I threatened to use it all – the brain overrode the system.  The next time I set out to run in the same format – my brain was triggered into believing that it would need to pace the body so as not to deplete its stored energy sources again “remember last time it would think” …it wasn’t until I set out at the slower pace, kept my HR in the fat burning zone and did not dig into stored energy from the start that my brain allowed me to utilize some of my stored energy for the “big pushes”.






Farrell's eXtreme Bodyshaping - New Hope

7550 42nd Ave. N.
New Hope, MN 55427

Phone: (612) 875-6140 
Head Coach: Krista Berbig
Franchise Owner: Boatmans & Berbigs



Farrell's New Hope Gym location