For several years, I had the same boring running routine that I did 3 times a week. I would run a 3 mile course at a ‘medium’ pace. Then I did some reading about running, and found out about a few running workouts that you can do. i also found out that these running workouts can not only put a spark in your running, but it also can make you a more balanced and better runner.
During the first couple of months of running you will most likely focus on building a base of running for about 20 minutes without taking a walk break. This is the focus of my running schedule for beginners. Once you achieve success with this 8-week program, you may be ready to make your running workouts a little more interesting.
Once you have succeeded in being able to run fro more than 20 minutes, then it becomes a good idea to look at the different ways that you can do to build a well-rounded running fitness, which includes some different types of running workouts besides just running a medium paced jog for 30 minutes or so.
The different running workouts will enhance different parts of your running fitness. If you will remember, the main components of running fitness include Aerobic Endurance, Aerobic Capacity, Lactate Threshhold, and Anaerobic Energy. Aerobic endurace and aerobic capacity are components related to how ‘winded’ or out of create you feel when you run, while the lactate threshold is related to the fatigue in the muscles that you feel. The anaerobic energy is a short term energy that helps to boost your running when your body cannot get enough oxygen to the muscles. The point of this is that your running fitness will be hindered by the weakest of these areas, and it is important to focus on all of them. Running workouts will help with that.
In addition, your body will adapt to the type of exercise you are on, and eventually you reach a plateau in development. So, you have to confuse your body by constantly changing the type of workout. This concept is similar to the ‘muscle confusion’ concept that the P90X home workout program is known for.
The following explains some running workouts to help you build all areas of your running fitness, be well balanced, and continue to develop at a high level.
1) Fartleks – I know it sounds like a funny word, and it is actually a fun workout to do. In fact it is a Swedish word for ‘Speed Play’. If we had coined the phrase in the US, we would have called it ‘Freestyle Running’.
To run a Fartlek, just run a medium distance that is comfortable, and vary your speed along the way. First, start at a medium pace. Then, along the way, pick a distance in your sight and run at a faster pace for that distance. Or, your bursts can be time based as well. The bursts should be around 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Your recovery time between these bursts should be slightly less than the bursts themselves. Try to just have a good time with these, and us them to improve your pace and recovery while running.
2) Tempo Run – Are you a slow runner? Well, this is a great way to increase your pace over time. A Tempo run is running at a hard controlled pace for an extended period of time of 20 to 30 minutes. To run a tempo run, obviously you will need to run a slow or medium jog for warm up first for 5 or 10 minutes, and then you run the tempo run, followed by another 5 to 10 minute cool down jog. Beginners can start out with tempo runs of 5 minutes, and then build up to more from there. A good pace for a tempo run will be slightly slower than your 10k or 5k pace.
3) Intervals – Interval training is a cycle of work with a recovery period followed by more work. The idea is to work your body to a high level, and then allow it to recover for a short time, then you repeat the process again. In fact, the running schedule that you have been following is really a type of interval training; for example 1 minute of running followed by 30 seconds of walking.
There are different intensities and types of interval training that range from 400 meter repeats all the way to 2 mile repeats. For beginner runners, you will likely be working in the quarter mile to half mile distance. After you have jogged a few minutes, then run at a fast pace for about a quarter mile to a half mile (3 to 5 minutes), then walk or jog about 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat the interval once or twice. You can try to improve your interval fitness by adjust the interval time, recovery time, interval distance, and the pace. I really find intervals fun, and I like to try to beat my own time for a course.
4) Hill Work – Running on hills will give you a workout like you cannot believe. It will also strengthen muscles that do not get worked out as much when you run on flat roads. Where I live, I have to work to find some hills to run on, but you may not have that problem. The idea is to run up the hill, then coast down the other side. Then repeat. If you have a route with several hills, just run along that course. The variety of hills will make the run even more interesting. Be careful when running down hills, though, as this is a potential place for injury.
5) Hill Intervals – Another way to get the benefit of hills is to run hill intervals. Pick a nice long hill, and run up the hill at a fast pace. Then rest at the top of the hill for a few minutes, and trot back down.
6) Long Runs – The long run is typically associated with marathon training, but I do not think it has to. If the farthest you have ever run is 3 miles, then that is your long run. You really only need to run one long run each week or so. Just add 10 percent mileage to your long run each week, and eventually you will be running farther than you ever thought you could. The benefit of this long distance running is that you continue to build aerobic endurance and your muscles learn how to deal with this mileage as well.
I hope you will try several or even all of these workouts. You will find that they will make your running program more enjoyable, and you will start to become quite a fit runner if you follow some of these workouts regularly.
What do you think?
Do you have a running workout that you would like to share?
Select one workout froths list, and try it out today!