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Quitting Long-Duration Cardio: Tara’s Story

By Tara Ballard

I’ve talked before about my ex-exercise addiction. It came up again recently after I posted a post-workout pic on Facebook…Jill and I started talking about the very first email I sent to her almost 4 years ago detailing my workout schedule at the time. I dug up that first email, and I thought I would share:

My old workout schedule:


3:00am or so: Wake-up

4:00am: Tempo or goal-pace run – 5 to 7 miles

5:00am: have been doing a strength circuit of push-ups, pull-ups, dips, hanging leg raises – 5x

5:30am: Teach 60 min Cycle class

5:15pm: Teach 60 min Cycle class

6:15pm: Teach 60 min PowerPump (Barbell) class


4:30am: Wake-up

5:30am: Teach 60 min PowerPump

5:30pm: Teach 1.5 hour Cycle/Sculpt (45 mins Cycle/45 mins upper-lower Sculpt); or 1.5 “Triple Threat” (30 mins Cycle, 30 mins running, 30 mins upper body sculpt)

3:00am: Wake-up

4:00am: Speed work – 5 to 10 x 800’s with slow jog in between – 5 to 7 miles total

5:10am: Push-up circuit – if time

5:30am: Teach 60 min Cycle

5:30pm: Teach 60 min PowerPump class

6:30pm: Teach 20-30min “Ab Blast” class


4:30am: Wake-up

5:30am: Teach 60 min PowerPump class



3:00am: Wake-up (these 3 am days get OLD!)

4:00am: Hill work on treadmill – 6 miles total

5:00am: Strength circuit – push-ups, dips, pull-ups, hanging leg raises

5:30am: Teach 60 min “Butts n Guts” OR Triple Threat


8:30am: Teach 60 min Bootcamp class

9:30am: Teach 60 – 120 min Cycle class, depending on day



WEEKS 1 – 2: 10 TO 15 MILES


Are you as exhausted as I am by reading that? :)

The sad part is I didn’t see anything wrong with what I was doing at the time. As a matter of fact, I prided myself on how much activity I could squeeze into a day. So what if I only got 4 hours of sleep a night and ate popcorn for dinner?  I taught a gazillion classes and ran a gazillion miles this week…I rock!

The kicker is that while I felt like I needed to do more, more, more to obtain the results I desired, I never could get there. Instead, I was skinny, run down, sick and injured much of the time. No real way to live.

2008 and now

[Quick note from Jill: Tara looks phenomenal in the first photo too. She is indeed beautiful inside and out, no matter what shape or size. But the look and feel of the body is different from one to the other.
Plus, she got to cut her exercise down to a quarter of what she used to do!]

I thank God every day that Jill came into my life when she did. She helped me break the cycle, and while it did not happen overnight, I am so glad to be where I am now.

I won’t lie, it was tough to break the Cardio Queen mindset. It was a very gradual process. I started by cutting back on teaching group exercise classes. Over the course of about a year, I got my teaching schedule down to just a few Metabolic Effect classes per week. Then, I started doing Personal Training, and stopped teaching altogether.

My own workouts changed drastically, but again, it was gradual. I did not quit long duration cardio cold turkey, but eased away from it to shorter, more intense workouts. And of course, I started lifting heavy, which has contributed most to the changes in my physique.

So, what does my workout schedule look like now?  Here’s a general idea. It can vary a little from week to week, but you get the idea.

My Workout Schedule Now:

4:30am: Wake up
5:30am: 20-30 mins of some kind of plyos/core
6:00-8:30am: Train clients
8:30am: 20-30 min Chest/Tris with Jill

6:00am: Wake up
7:30am: 30-45 mins Treadmill Hill Sprint Workout (if 45 mins, then first 15 mins is flat warm-up) OR 8×80 meter hill sprints outdoors with Jill
9:00am: 20-30 min Heavy Legs with Jill

4:30am: Wake up
5:30am: 2.5 mile tempo run (<18 minutes); 10 min core
6:00-8:30am: Train clients
8:30am: 20-30 min back/biceps with Jill


4:30am: Wake up
5:30am: 20-30 mins of some kind of plyos/core
6:00-8:30am: Train clients
8:30am: 20-30 min Heavy Shoulders with Jill

9:00am: treadmill fast 5k race against myself :) / 20 min light legs (ME Video) / Core

If I rested on Saturday, then will meet Jill at track for 6x200m sprints.

Quite a difference, eh?

I will be honest with you, there are weeks when I do a little more than what I’ve outlined above. But there are also weeks when I do a lot less. I will never go back to the mindset that more is better. I am living proof that it is not! While the physique changes are very nice, I am most grateful for the change in how I feel, physically and mentally. I now pride myself on how little I need to do to obtain the results I want!

If you are stuck in a Cardio Queen rut, and you’re not quite sure how to break out of it, check out the Jillfit Lifestyle site! Everything is broken down for you week-by-week, along with the mindset tools to change your way of thinking :)

All of our favorite short, intense cardio workouts are enclosed in the brand new Cardio Acceleration Workout Workbook, with 50 interval HIIT workouts–all different lengths and fitness levels. Ox, Jill

Related: How much cardio should you do?

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