Are you running your butt off but not seeing the types of gains that you should?
Then you might be doing the wrong type of work.
There are three key workouts that every runner should do. They are the building blocks for any run at any distance. These workouts are so important that you could get away with doing only these three runs a week.
What is this magic that I speak of? I am talking about the big THREE, the essentials.
So without further adieu, here they are. Start your week off with Speed Training then add in a Hill run and finish up with the weekly Long run.
Sounds easy right? Uhh.. nope!
See the reason you are not seeing the gains you should, is that you work out a LOT. Which tires you out and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, but it disguises the truths. Which is… you don’t work out hard enough. Most runners run too slow to get fast and too fast to recover. We are essentially stuck.
You see we are in a comfort zone. And if you are even considering running faster or longer, then we need to get you out of that zone. In other words, get ready to embrace some pain.
Running fast seems fairly straight forward. Strap on some shoes and go for it. And it can be, some of my favourite Speed days are the unstructured Fartleks. A Fartlek is simply a run where we randomly choose to pick up the pace for a random distance. For instance, pick a landmark when you are out running, say a tree or a sign, and then pick up the pace until you reach it. Nothing could be simpler and to top it off Fartleks are perfect if you are running with partners. You each take a turn.
If you are looking for a more structured approach to Speed, then you can always head to a track or at least run a distance that you have measured out. You can do an effective Speed day with distance that range anywhere from 50-meter sprints and all the way up to a mile. I usually keep mine anywhere between 200 and 1000 meters.
Remember to keep the pace up between sets. A jog is ideal but a brisk walk is essential. This will help flush out lactic acid and teach to recover on the move.
Remember to always warm up and cool down.
Hills. Oh how I love to hate them. But, if you want to see some improvements, nothing will do it better and faster then running hills and running them hard.
There are two hill workouts that I do on a regular basis. The first is hill repeats. The workouts are pretty self explanatory, find yourself a reasonably steep hill preferrably at least 200m long and then do hill repeats. The number of repeats can vary, but I recommend starting with 4 and adding one a week until you hit 8. Then find yourself a harder hill, one that is either steeper or longer.
One common mistake on hill repeats is to only run the uphill hard. Don’t forget to run the downhill hard as well. Both direction stress different muscle groups.
The second hill workout, is the Pace Hill run. You will need a hilly route to run and then make sure you run at just below race pace. In an ideal world your hilly route will be about half of your long distance run, but if you run a little longer or shorter then adjust your pace accordingly.
The cornerstone of any workout regime is the Long run. These are meant to simulate race conditions and should be run at race pace. Remember, when you are tired you will run at the pace you trained at.
A common practice is to run these using a negative split, where the second half is faster then the first. It is an ideal practice to build pace awareness and mental toughness.
If you have some big goals this year, or even if you don’t, these three runs will treat you well. Give them a try for the next 6 weeks and I bet you won’t go back.
Keep trucking along!