Do you even SMIT? Supramaximal Interval Training

June 18, 2014

Sorry I’ve been so quiet on here! No excuses, just busy.

Today I wanted to talk about SMIT. No, not that one off “New Girl”. SMIT. Supramaximal Interval Training (you knew that, right?)

You’re no doubt familiar with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) – a cardio modality which involves repeating short periods of intense effort with even shorter periods of lower-intensity effort for recovery. There are various ways of doing HIIT, including a 2:1 ratio of work/recovery, and Tabata (20 seconds all-out effort, 10 seconds recovery, repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes work period). With HIIT, the effort is short but intense, and the recovery is shorter and medium effort. The idea is that the total session time isn’t long, but that you’re actually working for all of it (because you never give your system time to recover between intervals).

Anyway, move over HIIT. You’re so 2013. Today it’s all about SMIT.

I hadn’t heard of SMIT until this morning, when I read Nick Tumminello’s article about it (read it here). But I did know about it, because I’ve been doing it for years, both as part of my endurance-sport training back in the day, and more recently as a form of conditioning for bodybuilding contest prep. Only I don’t give it a name. I call it hill sprints, shuttle runs or track sessions (I have other names for this kind of session, but none are suitable for public conversation).

So, what’s SMIT and how is it different to HIIT?
Unlike HIIT, where the recovery/rest periods are active (usually about 50% of effort) and relatively short (typically shorter than the duration of the effort), with SMIT you need longer recovery. SMIT effort periods need to be all-out – think short sprints, hill reps, shuttle runs. You need to push yourself above your VO2-max (if you’ve ever done a VO2 max test, you’ll know what this feels like… !) The rest periods, however, are full rest. Slow jogging, probably even walking. Perhaps even a little lie on the ground before getting up and wandering around blinking the stars away from your eyes. You get the idea.

If you’re interested in reading more, check out this article on PubMed Endurance and sprint benefits of high-intensity and supramaximal interval training. And do read Nick Tumminello’s SMIT vs HIIT article , it contains lots of useful info about why SMIT may be better than HIIT, how to incorporate it into your training, and some session ideas.

As for me? Well, yes I do SMIT! And HIIT. And LISS (aka “walking the dog”). I’m currently doing hill springs (running) twice a week as part of the conditioning phase of my bodybuilding training. It takes me 30 minutes, and that includes walking/jogging to and from the bottom of the evil hill. No photos, sorry. SMIT is definitely not the kind of session which lends itself to selfies.

Do you do SMIT? Did you know you were doing it or do you just call it “cardio”, “intervals”, or “that session I dread/love/hate”?

Do you even SMIT? Supramaximal Interval Training is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

TheFitDog hosts a running magazine giveaway

April 10, 2014

TheFitDog has a big head at the moment. And I’m not talking about the generous proportions he was blessed with by mother nature. He’s puffed up with pride, far beyond his wrinkly jowls and square brain-box.


He’s in a magazine again.
nicola joyce running magazine

Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted him (and me, but that’s by the by) in the current issue of Women’s Running magazine. Remember when we went on a caniX training session? This article is the result*


Anyway, Frankie thinks that absolutely everybody should have the opportunity to gaze upon his handsome face and marvel over this athletic physique. So he’s offering one of you a brand new, slobber-free copy of May 2014 Women’s Running magazine.

To be in the mix – do these two things

1) share this blog post on Twitter (with my Twitter name @thefitwriter in your tweet somewhere)
share this blog post on Facebook (with my FB page link in the post)
2) leave a comment on this post to let me know you’ve done one of the above!

Frankie and I will pick a winner on Monday and get the magazine sent out to you ASAP.

Open to readers anywhere in the world 🙂

*In case you think I’ve gone a bit quiet with the “where you’ll find my byline this month” posts, I don’t do much journalism these days – it’s mostly copywriting. I put a fair bit of client news on my website newspage, when possible.

TheFitDog hosts a running magazine giveaway is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

thefitdog on running with your human (Cani Cross)

December 3, 2013

This is a blog post from Frankie, the office dog


Yo yo, whaddup my dogz & bitches!

Golly, sorry it’s been so long since I wrote a blog post. Nic’s been hogging the blog.

Today I am going to tell you all about Cani Cross which is the sport of running with your human!

Nic and I went on a beginner Cani Cross session in Kent this morning with some other dogs and humans (they had all been a few times before) and I had such an amazing time that I feel sure your day will not be complete until you’ve heard about it.

So, turn round and round and round in your bed, lie down, sigh, and have a read.

Frankie goes to Cani Cross.


I love running. And I love Nic! So why not combine the two and take Nic for a nice run. That’s what Cani Cross allows you to do – take your human for a lovely run. You can even do Cani Cross races, but I’m not sure Nic is fast enough for that just yet.

A nice lady named Jenny at Joggy Doggy taught Nic and I how to run together. We met up with her, and with the crew BARKIS (and Nadia), MONTY (and Rob), FRENCHIE (and Claire), JASPER (and Bella) and TILLY (who is actually Jenny’s dog but was running with a different human today whilst Jenny and Sam taught us what to do). Here we are:

Basically, right, you put a special harness on your human (it is called a belt) and then you pop your own Cani Cross harness on and clip your human in via the single line (it’s like a lead but a special one).

Then you go for a run! The great thing about it is that your human doesn’t have to hold on to you: they let go, and you run out to the end of the line, and you just run and run and run. It doesn’t really matter if your human can’t run as fast as you (which they probably can’t), because they are securely attached to you via the line and their belt. The belt is a nice wide comfy one which means you can steadily pull them along in a very natural movement.

Nic wasn’t very good at running but she hasn’t really done much running in a long time. I was way better! I helped her out and made it much easier for her, especially up the hills and through the splashy mud!

We learned all sorts of things today, including how the human tells you to go (or go faster), how the human tells you to turn left or right, slow down and stop. We learned what to do when passing another dog/human combo (useful if you’re in a race, or running where there are other dogs).

Frankie’s top tips for doing Cani Cross with your human
– make sure your human is securely attached to you via their belt and line
– encourage your human to warm up properly first with some walking, drills and mobility (you can have a lie down during that bit)
– bear in mind that your human can’t run as fast as you can, so you’ll need to adapt
– give your human lots of encouragement during the run so they keep going (I find smiling and wagging my tail works)
– make sure your human drinks water after your run
– don’t let your human eat too quickly after running (let their HR return to normal first)
– praise your human lots afterwards with cuddles so they know that Cani Cross is a good thing to do

And do you know what? I stopped for one poo, and I picked up one stick when we all stopped for a photo, but that was it. It’s mad! Normally on a regular walk, I stop all the time for wees, I pick up about 20 sticks and generally just ramble about.

Cani Cross really focused my mind! All I wanted to do was run, and keep up with the gang, and pull Nic properly so she would say “good boy” and “isn’t this fun Frankie?” and stuff.

I can’t really tell you guys too much about it, because Nic is writing it all up for an article in Women’s Running magazine, but I would really encourage you to give it a go with your human. Even humans who don’t like running love Cani Cross! Here are some of the comments from the humans I met today:

“I hate running, but I love running with my dog”
“If it wasn’t for Cani Cross I wouldn’t run at all”
“I can run much faster and for longer when I’m running with the dog”
“Cani Cross running improves your regular running pace and technique”

The dogs had plenty to say, too, but I can’t really share all our secrets.

What I will tell you though is that most of the crew I met today are rescues, like me. One of them (MONTY) has a mega-tragic story, and normal socialisation/puppy classes just didn’t work for him, he got way too stressed and hated it. But he loves Cani Cross, and he finds it really easy to be around other dogs and humans now since he’s been doing it! He even finds that its helped him in the rest of his life, too, he doesn’t get sad or stressed any more. (That’s him to my right in this pic)

If you want to know anything specific about Cani Cross, how to find a local group, how to maybe do a Cani Cross race with your human, or anything else, hit me up with a comment and I’ll get Nic to type out my reply.

Thanks for reading!

PS I am sooooo tired now! 😀

thefitdog on running with your human (Cani Cross) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: TevaSphere Speed shoes

March 4, 2013

In this installment of Fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week I’m pleased to tell you about some brand-new shoes from outdoor adventure brand Teva. I’ve had them for a while but was asked to hold back with a review until launch date – which is today. Hot off the press!


A lot of people understand the benefits of more minimalist footwear these days. Barefoot running has had a huge effect on the kit we’ve seen on offer from major brands, and gone are the days when huge big cushioned soles were the order of the day.

The TevaSphere range bridges the gap between minimalist and structured footwear and has been designed specifically for outdoors. The team feel that minimalist footwear and more traditional over-supportive training shoes have shortcomings, and wanted to develop a range which gives outdoor athletes like adventure runners a higher-performing shoe.

The brand collaborated with leading sports science and human performance institute P3 (Peak Performance Project) and the result was the first outdoor cross-trainer offering a spherical heel and pod-based arch support system. The idea is that the spherical heel lowers your point of contact with the ground, for a more natural point of impact and more efficient transition, and the pod-arch system gives you specific support only where it’s needed, to make the shoe supportive but really light.


I don’t do a whole lot of fell running or adventure racing (!) but I do a lot of power walking on varied terrains and I was happy to test the Speed shoe. In fact, I’ve been wearing them for a month or so now. The verdict? They’re very light and feel supportive but definitely allow me to feel more in contact with the ground. Enough support, without too much cushioning. And I did feel that I was able to roll through my foot whilst walking, which often isn’t the case when wearing walking shoes or regular trainers. The shoes dry really quickly and seem to have withstood the worst of the late-Winter weather.


There are three models in the line: the Speed (quick dry materials and lightweight design), Trail eVent® (a breathable waterproof membrane, sturdy design and toe bumper), and Trail Mid eVent® (with extra protection of a mid-cut height).

They are exclusively available from Cotswold Outdoor.

Thanks Teva for letting me try the shoes!

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: TevaSphere Speed shoes is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

My Olympics: day 14, 4x100m relay

August 10, 2012

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: the epic 4x100m final.

Gird your loins, folks. It’s the pinnacle of every track meet, everyone’s favourite athletic show-down: the 4x100m final.

I ventured down to my local running track tonight and met with three good-humoured members of Reading Roadrunners (and a fourth – my friend Ellie Barnes – who volunteered to (wo)man the camera and act as commentator).

The athletes? Gosling, Jenkins, Edmondson and… Joyce. Three runners. One bodybuilder. Meet them here…

It was going to be a race which would stay in the memory for a long, long time. Those who were there would never forget it.

The special commemorative baton was unveiled.

First, the athletes were spotted warming up and practicing the all-important handover.

Then they lined up on the track at 100m and the crowd went silent. You could have heard a pin drop as these four talented track athletes prepared for the race of their lives. Would Gosling, with those long levers and suspicious amount of testosterone (being a bloke) power the team off to a storming start? Would Jenkins the little powerhouse keep the pace high in the crucial second 100m? All eyes were on Edmondson, the stalwart of the team, as she was charged with holding it together for the final handover. And Joyce. How would Joyce fare in that critical home straight?

We’d have the answers in just a few moments…

On your marks… set… go!

In an actually-not-so-bad-really time of 71 seconds, the team finished triumphant and breathing hard with the exertion. Well, it wasn’t tooooo far off the new women’s 4x100m World Record of 40.82!

Then, because it was a nice evening and that hadn’t really taken very long, they decided to all line up together and do a 100m race.

Gold to Gosling
Silver to Jenkins
Bronze to Joyce

But after the post-race interview, a heated dispute and much consulting of the ancient tome which is The Rulebook, Gosling was sensationally stripped of his Gold medal on account of being a man in a woman’s race.

So the final positions were

Gold to Jenkins
Silver to Joyce
Bronze to Edmondson

They took to the podium for an emotional rendering of the…er… Berkshire anthem.


How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day 14, 4x100m relay is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

My Olympics: day nine, 400m (track)

August 5, 2012

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: the women’s 400m final.

Christine Ohuruogu and I have a lot in common. Loads. We’re both women. We both wear sportsbras and trainers a lot. And we both ran 400m today.

I was spoiled for choice with inspiration for today’s blog post. A game of tennis? I’d love to, but I don’t have a racquet (or a tennis partner). The entire men’s omnium? That could be fun. Also very time-consuming. The marathon! Maybe not (I have run marathons though, if that counts at all. PB of 4 hours 04 mins – watch your back, Tiki Gelana!)

But I was pushed for time and needed my blog-post sporting effort to be tacked on to the end of my own training session. So, 400m it was (on the treadmill).

I would in no way call myself a track runner, but I have done quite a lot of track running in the past: firstly as weekly training when I ran for a running club (Dulwich Runners AC reprazent!) and more recently a couple of Summers ago when I decided to get my 5km race time down (it seemed a noble cause at the time). I ran many 400m reps during my 5km-Summer (and still never got my 5km time under 20mins!) so knew today’s challenge was doable. The question was: what would my time be?

With just a few minutes until the gym closed, I hopped onto a treadmill and started running slowly. I hadn’t really thought this through. I didn’t have a stop-watch on, and had no idea how to set up the treadmill so it would do a 400m “effort” and record the time. So, I ran a bit quicker until the screen said 600m, then cranked up the speed with one hand whilst starting the stopwatch on my phone with the other hand. Then I ran like hell.

I realised immediately that running a 400m effort on the treadmill is not the best test of speed, because you can’t just go a bit faster as soon as your brain decides to: you have to adjust the speed manually and think about it. It was very different to running it on the track! However, I had no choice and by now I was about 179m through so I just kept going.

400m is a horrible distance, really. Is it a sprint? Or is it endurance? It calls on both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, which is why it hurts so much (even if you’re slow like me). Sure enough, about 2/3 of the way through, my legs appeared to stop communicating with my brain and started flailing about in a disconcerting manner. Mildly alarmed, I turned the speed down a touch.

Ouch, help me! By the power of Christine, make it stop!

The nice thing about 400m is that, horrible as it is, it’s over pretty soon.

1:28:9. Well, it’s a season’s best! 😉

If I’d been running with Christine & co tonight, this is what the results would look like.

Rank: 9
Lane: treadmill
Bib: t-shirt
Athlete: JOYCE Nicola
Reaction time: slow (fiddling with iPhone)
Time: 01:28:9 (SB)

Awesome! ;D

How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day nine, 400m (track) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

My Olympics: day seven, track starts (athletics)

August 3, 2012

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: track starts (athletics).

Yippee, the athletics events have begun! I’m no track and field athlete but – like many of you – I just love watching the athletics events. So, today’s Olympics-inspired challenge had to be something about sprinting, or jumping, or throwing something heavy. Or hurdling. Please, not hurdling.

As luck would have it, I was due to have a training session with retired-400m runner Tim Benjamin, who now owns and runs a couple of fitness facilities near where I live. One – Five Star Health and Fitness on Vale Road in Windsor – is brand-spanking new… and amazing. I’ll be blogging about it soon but, if you’re in the area, check it out.

“Tim, you were a track athlete. What can you teach me, in about 10 minutes and without an actual track, blocks or hurdles?” I said.

Tim was stoic and unflummoxed by the prospect of teaching a bodybuilder in Vibrams how to be a track athlete. “Let’s do track starts,” he said.

Great idea! Five Star Health & Fitness has a little mini-track in the cardio area, for doing hops and jumps and crawls. Ideal for learning how to do sprint starts!

Here’s Tim’s how-to:

“You need to get in the correct position to drive out of the start at a 45* angle. Get the start position wrong and you’ll either go straight up, or you’ll lose a lot of power. Kneel down with one knee (right, if you’re right handed) just behind the line, then stand up without moving that foot. Position the left foot just behind it and out at hip width. Then kneel back down – your knees and feet are now in the right position. Your hands have to be behind the line, and you’ll be up on your fingertips. From there, push up onto your feet, raising your hips and keeping your back hollow. Now it’s time to drive off into your first stride. You’re aiming for full hip drive and one big long stride… “

Now, I am far from athletic, not blessed with speed and agility and have no “mind body connection” at all when it comes to this kind of thing. I can genuinely say I have never tried a track start in my life.

Tim, on the other hand, counts Marlon Devonish as a former training partner, was once ranked 3rd in the world, competed in an Olympic final (the 4x400m in 2004) and came 2nd in the World Grand Prix Final in 2005 with a PB of 44:56 for the 400m. So, he was an excellent teacher. And I actually ended up moving my limbs in more or less the correct manner and striding off down that mini-track!

Take your marks… Set….


Wheeeee! Look at me! I’m running!

The fastest woman in the world…

…is not me. 😉

Thank you Tim! 🙂

How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day seven, track starts (athletics) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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