It’s hard enough to fit prayer into a busy mother’s day, let alone get exercise. With my ultimate rosary HIIT workout for runners, you’ll be able to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary AND get the benefits of an hour-long workout in as little as 15 minutes.
Twenty years ago I ran a 20 minute mile, cursing and complaining the whole way through.
Today? My current time is 8:30. And I love it – because the way I run combines a workout for my body with a workout for my soul.
I hated running in high school. Hated. It.
We ran the timed mile on a gravel track; four and a quarter loops around the football field. Well, everybody else ran it. I walked, resplendent in a red and yellow polyester gym uniform.
I was stylin’. And slow.
Gym class in general was the bane of my existence, but running the mile was a special kind of hell. A strange mixture of jealousy and self-loathing welled within me as I watched friends, acquaintances, and crushes fly past me. No matter what I tried on my own – walking, jogging, biking – my speed and endurance stayed just as shoddy.
Learning to love my run
Running remained torture for the next ten years. I chose other activities to keep active, like kickboxing, hiking and kayaking. But in the summer of 2007, I found myself with an interesting conundrum:
I had a six month old. Time was limited. While not impossible, outdoor activities were more difficult. I needed an outlet, something I could do in a relatively short amount of time that would leave me spent but energized.
Running was the answer.
I could be outside. I could think and not be distracted by the goings-on in the house. Best of all, I was alone. No friends. No acquaintances. Certainly no crushes (I married my last one and he still hates running). I could run because I wanted to, not because anyone else insisted.
Over the next five years and who knows how many miles, my time dropped from 20 minutes to 10. A friend who was moving gifted us a treadmill and I started running more often.
Right into a wall.
Moving toward interval training
It started with B’s pregnancy. I had gestational diabetes, and the weight of perceived failure squashed me like a gravid bug. I was still running close to 12 miles a week, but my workouts were getting monotonous. Outside, I followed the same routes. Inside, I watched the news. That boredom, coupled with frustration over my body’s betrayal and a general valley in my prayer life made logging the miles a chore.
But I couldn’t stop. I spent B’s postpartum period searching for a workout that would keep me engaged, decrease my insulin resistance, and feed my spiritual life. High intensity interval training seemed like the answer. While it didn’t solve the prayer life problem, doing intervals of heart-pumping cardio interspersed with short periods of rest would increase my calorie burn, up my metabolism, and keep me on my toes – and give me the benefits of a full workout in as little as 15 minutes.
I found some bodyweight HIIT routines that I enjoyed, but applying HIIT principals to running was problematic.
Smartphones weren’t yet ubiquitous, and I didn’t have a watch that would time me in that way. How would I know when to walk? Jog? Run?
As divine intervention would have it, I stumbled upon The Rosary Workout by Peggy Bowes. The concept was genius: time your intervals using the prayers of the rosary.
I could run, meditate on the mysteries of the most holy rosary, and do intervals without a watch or a timer?
I’ve done different iterations of this rosary workout over the years, but the one I share with you today is my current favorite. Not only does it give me the benefits of an hour-long workout in as little as fifteen minutes,
But The Ultimate Rosary HIIT workout is also infinitely adaptable
- You can do it on a treadmill or outside
- You can moderate speed and incline according to your fitness level
- You can choose to work out for 15, 24, or 30 minutes at a time
- You can follow it up with traditional HIIT or strength training
Each interval is based on a simple premise:
- it takes 15 seconds to say a Hail Mary, and 30 seconds to say a Glory Be, an Oh, My Jesus, and an Our Father
- as a result, each interval lasts 3:00
- ten Hail Mary’s takes 2:30
- a Glory Be, Oh my Jesus and Our Father takes :30
- at the end of the workout, I add a :15 Hail, Holy Queen
- each interval involves a combination of walking and running
- at your base pace (jog)
- push pace (moderate run)
I’m never bored, I’m always worn out at the end, and I spend my morning workout time in prayer. The sound of my breathing; the rhythm of my feet on the pavement; the thumping of my heart within my chest: all of it brings me closer to the birth, passion, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As I meditate on the mysteries of the most holy rosary during my run, I am able to unite my physical sufferings and triumphs with those of Jesus. The physical exertion is difficult – this is not an easy workout – but I have time every day that is dedicated not only to my own self-improvement but also to worshipping my God in a most intimate and physical way.
Yes, running used to be a special kind of hell. But now it’s a glimpse of heaven, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
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