Some of the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) theories for training are to mimic the fight for flight mechanism to quickly drain our muscles of glycogen. Hard, short intervals. Which in turn gives solid physiological adaptation. These high intensity intervals try to get us in that state that nature used to get us to all the time. When danger unexpectedly reared its ugly head — we had to drop everything and get moving to save ourselves. Enter drunk dude Saturday night.
I’m finally back running and training again post-Zion 100 and was out on a night run Saturday night on one of my standard townie 10-mile loops. This route is one of my standards and I went up and over Awbrey Butte and around on the Deschutes River Trail back into downtown for a cruise through downtown and the park. After downtown, I started to cruise into Drake Park (a large park right downtown overlooking Mirror Pond and the Deschutes River). Right when I hit the park, I noticed a large group of 8 people walking together, typical Bend 20-somethings with skate/snowboard attire, hoodies, etc — obviously been drinking at 10:15pm.
Not giving them another thought as I passed, I quickly heard running footsteps. As this registered in my mind, I glanced over my shoulder to find one of the dudes had decided to give chase. He was bigger than me and coming up quickly, maybe 20 yards back and closing fast. Bam! Enter the true fight or flight response that HIIT workouts try to mimic. In these situations of complete surprise, you don’t think, you react. I yelled “C’mon!!” and turned on the afterburners. As I was pulling away from the dude through the rolling park, he continued to give chase for another 100 meters before I heard him shout through gasping breath as he was losing ground, “You’re in better shape than me!” and gave up. The predator goes hungry another day.
As I contemplated the encounter on my remaining run home, I thought about how suddenly drained I felt and also how satisfying it is to be able to throw down 4:11 pace when you need to (yes, I downloaded and checked my GPS data later that night to see how fast I’d turned it on to outrun the dude for 300 meters). I went from cruising 7:40 pace to 4:11 pace in about 10 strides. The one thing the HIIT workouts cannot mimic is the fear and adrenaline rush that potential danger causes. A natural response, but no matter how hard we try, a controlled workout simply can’t mimic the real threat scenario.
So, thanks drunk dude in Drake Park for the primal HIIT workout — eat my dust with a side of adrenaline, homeboy.