Do you feel like you’re doing a workout for old people? This summer, I unexpectedly found a surprising way to turn back time. It involves running, but not the slow jogging that we seem to do as we get older. Instead, it involves running short sprints. According to research, this is better for you. What the research doesn’t mention is that it makes you feel like a kid at the same time!

Many Years of Running

I have lots of running experience. After ending my competitive swimming career in high school, I took up distance running. No matter where I was and what my schedule, I could always throw on running shoes and fit in a jaunt. I ran lots of races, marathons, and enjoyed being a part of running groups. I even met my husband at an early morning run. For years, my email started with jenkirbyruns.

As I began to play more tennis in my 30s, I ran less. My legs were usually plenty tired and they didn’t need more pounding. However, I always had running in my back pocket, an adaptable workout that I could do no matter where I was.

But gradually my running has become jogging and then turned into plodding. I would see fit, young runners sprint down the street and I’d sadly wonder, will I ever run fast again? Probably not.

Fortunately, I was wrong.

New Study Promotes Sprinting

And then I saw a new study this summer. It said that exercisers who did a series of 30-second sprints regularly saw more improvement in their fitness, in far less time, than runners who jogged for 45 minutes. Even the researcher was surprised by these results.

This information got my attention. I’ve never liked sprinting because it hurts. When I ran track, I dreaded speed workouts which involved lots of heavy breathing and pain. I didn’t care for running hills in cross-country for the same reasons. However, I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient and decided to give this new approach a try. It wasn’t going to be fun and I probably wouldn’t like it, but it might be worth it.

Giving Sprints a Try

Early one morning, I put on my running shoes and took the dog to our nearby golf course. We are members and if it’s very early and there are no golfers around, it’s okay to enjoy the beautiful grounds.

This path takes me to the golf course.

Once on the course, I started with some light jogging and gradually picked up some speed. I counted to 30 slowly and then rested. I repeated this four more times and felt fine. The dog enjoyed this new game and frolicked alongside me.

I continued this routine most days. Sometimes I would do 8 short sprints. Gradually I felt smoother and had to work harder to get out of breath. I may have even noticed a tad more muscle in my legs. But more importantly and most surprisingly, this was fun. I came home energized and excited about my playtime. I looked forward to the next time I could run like a kid.

Of course, I’m not running fast. However, it FEELS like I’m running fast. That’s what matters. I love the wind blowing through my hair. I enjoy covering an entire fairway in less than a minute. I like racing my dog and talking to him about the match up afterwards. I even did my sprints early one morning at the dog park with a few puppies of all sizes. Now that got the party started! This kind of workout is playful.

Not everybody can run. However, I think this approach might be applicable to all forms of cardio. Whether the stationary bike, stair climber or even speed-walking, you might want to try working hard for 30 seconds and then recovering. Repeat this a few times and you’ve officially done your workout. Anything else you do is bonus exercise.

But if you’re going to try running like a kid, try to find a place with nobody around. It’s a little bit like singing in the car to the radio – it’s much more fun to do alone. Run like you’re 10 years old, race your dog, rest and then do it again. And no matter your age, you might gradually start to feel the glee a child feels as they chase a friend or move just for the fun of it. You might get excited for your next workout. You might even get healthier and stronger too. It’s working for me.

Give it a try! Your dog will thank you too.

Holmes is ready for a race anytime.