Yesterday I told you that I like running again. It took a while, and I frankly didn’t even realize I was suffering from any burnout, but I’m happy to report I’m on the other side of it.
Throughout my marathon training, I used a cookie-cutter training plan for beginners. It worked well enough, but knowing what I know now as an RRCA certified running coach, and realizing I did suffer a bit of runner’s fatigue, I can now effectively convey the importance of changing up your workouts throughout training. For my next training cycle, I myself have a coach and will not be using a cookie-cutter plan. I encourage you to do the same.
But for those of you looking for some variety in your workouts without using a coach or even training for a big race, here are some fun things you can incorporate into your schedule. These workouts will build strength and speed, and will help rev up your workout from boring to super fun.
Strides are defined as short bursts of swift running. They can easily be done on a track by running the straights and walking or jogging the curves. Effective stride workouts should be done in repetitions of 6-10, with plenty of time for recovery between effort sessions. Incorporating strides into your workout promotes an efficient running form and are a great cool-down exercise.
A true tempo run is done at a pace that you can race for 60 minutes. It is not a conversation pace run, nor is it a 5K race pace run. For most people, tempo pace should be right around the 10K race pace. Tempo runs, if done correctly, will improve lactate threshold while also promoting a more efficient running form.
Fartlek literally translates to “speed play” in Swedish. Fartlek running increases strength and improves form. How to execute a fartlek workout? Easy. Just run. Run hard for a little bit, then slow down to a light jog or walk. Repeat. Aim for about 20-30 minutes of fast running for maximum benefit of a fartlek workout. And don’t worry about distance, terrain, or specific speed and rest intervals. This is “play,” remember? Have fun with it. An example of an excellent fartlek workout — run between fire hydrants and walk to the next driveway.
Hill running is fabulous. Running hills improves endurance with very low muscle stress, and increases strength and improves form with not much strain on your ligaments and tendons. Less strain and more strength = less injury. To properly execute an effective hill workout, plan on running a sustained pace uphill while relaxing back to a conversation pace on your way back downhill or on the flats. Your pace will depend on the grade of the hill and the repetitions you do, but in general you’ll want to aim for 20-30 minutes of fast running.
|Run this hill!|
Interval workouts change according to the distance and pace you’re aiming to achieve, and are also recommended for experienced runners. Experienced marathoners interested in incorporating intervals should focus on the long intervals, such as 800m – 2000m. Those running shorter races or fine-tuning race pace should focus on the shorter sets of 800m or less. Short intervals, while super fun, are not recommended for most marathoners and particularly novices as the risk of injury increases considerably and does not balance with the benefits that may be achieved.
I hope these suggested workouts help you keep your running life fresh, fun, and injury-free. Injury-prevention is key and if you’re using these workouts effectively, you’ll build strength and endurance while protecting your muscles and ligaments.
Questions? Email me or post in the comments below.