Do You Do Working Intervals?

by tinareale on November 20, 2013

You may have noticed that after blogging on Monday last week I took the remainder of the week off. I still was active in the Holiday Workout Plan’s Facebook support group and emails, but besides that I laid kind of low on social media and didn’t do any blogging or workout planning. I gave myself a break. Please note – this is NOT an “I’m sorry for not blogging post”. The opposite, really.


As the post from Facebook states, I had spent the past few weeks working hard. I put a great deal of time and energy into the Holiday Workout Plan, between creating the twenty workouts, putting it all together in a user friendly format, filming and editing the video demos of each workout, etc. I enjoyed every minute (well, most every minute – work is work sometimes!). Plus, I had some sick kiddos to snuggle!

It got me thinking how too often in the past I would have let my perfectionism attitude and “must get things done” mentality prohibit that period of rest. Had I done so, I inevitably would have burned myself out and found myself not enjoying what I feel so blessed to call my work. Not good at all, yet something I know I have done way too often in the past.

During my down time, I caught up on some reading in the IDEA Fitness Journal (a great source full of articles for personal trainers). One of the articles discussed how we practice the idea of interval training in our workouts and prescribe interval workouts to our clients, but what about taking that concept to our lives?? YES!! I don’t know why that comparison never dawned on me before, but I loved it.

life is an interval workout

Interval training. A period of high intensity coupled with a period of rest and recovery in order to maximize our efficiency during the working interval and increase the effectiveness of the overall workout. How does that look like in our schedules, our work lives, or our personal lives? I think a lot of us hit the ground running day after day, cramming all we can into our lives with overloaded schedules and expectations to do things full out and never stopping.

Can you maintain the intensity for a 1 minute sprint during an interval workout for the entire workout? No. Or at least you shouldn’t without putting yourself at the risk for injury. So, why do we approach life that way. Why not schedule in more rest breaks?

  • Have short set aside times during the day each day to do something enjoyable that relaxes us. For example, twenty minutes in the morning for prayer/meditation, ten minutes mid-day to call a friend for a stress-free chat and saving some time at the end of the day for a hobby.
  • Give yourself a weekend. Or at least make sure you aren’t cramming more work into your schedule when you could have some down time. I hate to admit that a couple years ago I used to wake up early on the weekends to cram in some extra work and could be attached to my phone. Now, I sleep in, unplug, and let it be leisurely (or, if there are a lot of things going on – I make sure I’m only filling my schedule with things that fill me up in turn).

Of course, life gets crazy sometimes and there’s not much we can do about it. I feel you there. I would simply say at those times of life, be aware of chances to rest. Give up unnecessary extras that only add stress to you, take help when offered (and ask if needed and not offered!), and don’t immediately fill your plate again when things do calm down. Your life isn’t one giant sprinting interval. Make a point to schedule rest to have a safe “workout”…and be able to give more to those sprinting periods too.

Your Turn: Have you ever thought about intervals in life? How do you balanced rest and recovery with the “high intensity” times? How do you think it helps?


1 Heathers Looking Glass November 20, 2013 at 8:22 am

That is a great point! I love it when analogies to life relate to fitness. I am so bad about working 24/4, hazzard of working from home. I am constantly checking email and never feel like I ahve an “off” day, and I need to do better about this!

2 tinareale November 21, 2013 at 7:42 am

Yea. That was me with working from home before. It was so hard to separate it. Scheduling what I allow as my “work hours” helped with that so much.

3 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More November 20, 2013 at 8:35 am

Such a great discussion! Since starting my new job, which includes working from home and odd hours, it’s hard to turn off sometimes. I wake up early and usually start working while finishing my breakfast, I’ll take a longer break mid-day for lunch and a workout, and get back to it. It’s hard to remember that just because I’m awake it doesn’t mean I need to be working…but that’s easier said than done!

4 Ang @ Nutty for Life November 20, 2013 at 8:44 am

I really needed to read this this week. I feel like I have been sprinting a marathon to get everything I want/need to finish done lately, and you make a great point. I’ve never thought of intervals in life, but it makes sense. How can I sustain this pace for an extended period of time? I can’t! I need to take a breather and then continue on.

5 Kaila @healthyhelperblog! November 20, 2013 at 9:01 am

LOVE doing intervals! They keep me from getting bored on cardio machines and definitely help me challenge myself! Love the idea of applying ‘intervals’ to life as well! I think that mindset is so key for balance. :)

6 Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries November 20, 2013 at 9:03 am

Love this. I’ve learned a lot about this (and still am) in life. I very much have a perfectionistic personality as well, so it’s hard for me to “lay low” sometimes, but I’m learning, and it’s made a WORLD of a difference for me! I’m more content, happier, and less stressed. Not to mention I get to spend more time with my family, and that means the world to me!

7 tinareale November 21, 2013 at 7:44 am

That perfectionist personality will get you every time, huh? Gosh. Sometimes it’s a blessing to be so “go-getter” but sometimes it’s a real curse. I know how you feel!

8 heather @fitncokies November 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

This is such a great perspective! i tend to unplug at night and just focus on family and other things. I also make sure I have my “me” time in the morning before the day gets started, and at night. Without these, i can’t function! This is definitely hard, though, some days. i tend to be go-go-go and not stop for a break. I need to definitely keep this in mind with the holidays coming!

9 Christine @ Love, Life, Surf November 20, 2013 at 10:13 am

I love this post Tina and this perspective. It’s so so true. I tend to just keep going and going until I’m finally knocked down by a cold or something else and forced to rest. But of course, I don’t learn my lesson and I do it all over again. I need to be better at this and I love the idea of thinking of it as intervals!

10 Danielle @ LabelsAreForTinCans November 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

This is so interesting and funny that you wrote this! I feel and think the exact same way! Definitely compare working to an interval workout and this helps justify when I need a break. There is no way I could go full speed all the time as a grad student. It just leads to burnt out!

11 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions November 20, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Oooh, I LOVE this post. I really like to be busy, but sometimes my desire to have a full social calendar keeps me from enjoying my life as is! There are nights where I really just want to sit down and go brain dead browsing through BuzzFeed instead of going out to dinner/volunteering/going to a class/meeting up with friends/whatever, and that’s okay! Maybe not the best way to cultivate a social life if I did it every. single. night., but you’re so right that it’s important to take that time for yourself to not be go go go go go go all the time. I love the parallels between fitness and life here, and the whole thing really resonated with me. Great post!

12 tinareale November 21, 2013 at 7:45 am

I also feel like I thrive being busy but know it can rob the joy out of life without balance. PS – getting sucked into the BuzzFeed vortex is always a fun (and funny!) way to go brain dead and just veg for a bit. ;)

13 Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) November 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Yeah girl, no apologies! I’m bad at giving myself blogging breaks, mostly because I get so much out of it (selfish much? ;) ). But I’m all about taking some down time when needed. Glad you got in a break!

14 Tami Grandi November 20, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Oh Tina- I so needed to read this today. My schedule/life/work/etc has been crazy and I have been in tears more times than I haven’t the last month. Thank you thank you thank you- sharing this on FB and favorite-ing this so I can come back and reread it!

15 tinareale November 21, 2013 at 7:47 am

Oh, Tami! I hope you find some rest and peace in your schedule soon. Tough times do happen and life gets crazy sometimes. Maybe think of one small way to give yourself some breathing room each day? Even just 5-10 minutes for rejuvenating yourself in some way. Hugs!

16 Parita @ myinnershakti November 21, 2013 at 7:26 am

Great comparison! I never would have embraced this idea a few years ago, but now, I am all about it. Life is too short to be busy all the time. Personally, I am a better everything (wife, employee, daughter, sister, friend, etc.) when I take some time out for myself. :)

17 tinareale November 21, 2013 at 7:47 am

Agreed!!! I feel like I’m a much better PERSON as a whole when I don’t try to do it all.

18 Athena @ Fitness & Feta November 21, 2013 at 11:18 am

Tina, thank you so much for this perspective. I (obviously) love the comparison between life and interval training, but I really needed this today. Thank you for being you! :)

19 Monique @ Burpeestobubbly November 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

This is a wonderful post, and something I needed to hear right about now. I’ve never made that comparison before, but it is perfect! I am in sprint mode 90% of my days (if not more), and i know what it feels liek to get burned out… it’s the worst:( love this!

20 Danica @ It's Progression November 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I absolutely love that quote – so true!! We all need rest, whether that’s in terms of exercise, work, etc. It’s healthy and needed!

21 Dominique @ That's What Domi Said November 21, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Amen, girlfriend! I’ve actually been thinking about this all week as I worked on a post about recovery. You are on point – sprints are NOT sustainable, which is WHY we do them in intervals. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “doing” of living well that often I (we?) forget that “resting” is just as important and necessary. After all, “He made us to lie down in green pastures.”…

22 Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves November 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I love the analogy between interval workouts and life. I think it totally applies! I hope you have a nice interval of REST for yourself. :)

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