Why is it important to diversify your running workouts?
People often ask me what helped me to get fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon? How did I get to my “Happy Pace?” While there are several factors that helped me, I would definitely say that one of the most important was adding speedwork into my training. Before I started working with my coach Denise Goode my running consisted of short runs and long runs mostly at a similar pace. I always felt like I could run forever but when I went to races I never got any faster. Once I started diversifying my pace and workout type during training I began to shave significant amounts of time off my race times at different distances. I began to set P.R.’s and eventually I was able to run my fastest marathon to date a 3:33 and to qualify for the Boston Marathon!
So if you are looking to improve your running performance for the coming season, variety in type of running workout is the key.
Different types of training runs to get you to your “Happy Pace”
The base run is meant to be run at your natural pace and the distance should be short to medium. Base runs are essential for building your aerobic capacity. A base run will do exactly what it says, “develop a strong base” or endurance.
A tempo run will help your body learn how to maintain high levels of speed for longer periods of time. When you do a temp run you are training at your lactate threshold. At this rate of speed your body is working hard to remove the lactic acid from your body. Tempo runs simulate running at race pace although for a shorter distance than the actual race. When you do a tempo run this is the time that you will learn how to “leave your comfort zone.” An example of a tempo run would be a 15-20 minute warm-up (including dynamic stretching), 4 miles at your 10K pace and then a 15-20 minute cool down.
*This is my favorite type of training run!
Oh, the long run. The longer the race the longer the long run so it is highly suggested that you find a good running buddy or group to join you on the run, some music to keep you motivated, or use the long run for some extended meditation and quiet thinking time. Think of the long run as an extra long base run. Training on the long run will ensure that your body has the endurance to sustain on race day all the way to the finish line.
A necessary evil. Hill repeats will build muscle. This is a way to strength train while you are running. Your speed will also improve after doing hill training. You need to have a strong base before you begin hill training. A warm-up is always necessary before you do hill repeats to get your muscles nice and warm. Pick your
most dreaded favorite hill and set your watch for work time and rest time. Hill repeats are done at a fast pace on the uphill, think 5K (youe lungs will be burning and your heart will be racing!). Decide on the number of repetitions. You will repeat running uphill and slowly jogging or walking downhill for recovery. An example would be 45 seconds uphill with 2 minutes downhill for recovery and then repeat. You will be extremely fatigued following this workout and may want to plan a recovery run or day to rest or cross train for the following day. Being that this is a tough workout physically it is always great to bring a running friend along for the torture fun!
*When I was training for the Boston Marathon I also completed downhill repeats to acclimate my body to hard effort on a downhill course.
Fartleks (Speed Play in Swedish)
Fartleks are fun because this workout can be lacking structure. Essentially the idea is to add in quick burst of running at random intervals through a run to get your body ready for quick speed pick-ups. Add in things such as a sprint to the next mailbox or to to the next driveway followed by an easy pace. Then build your pace back up again and follow it with another burst.
*In college we used to do a fun Fartlek Alphabet run around campus. We would run around campus looking for each letter of the alphabet and then would add in a sprint to tag the letter and then we would repeat all the way from A-Z
Intervals are the Type A cousin of the Fartlek. Think of intervals as an organized fartlek. Intervals involve quick short bursts followed by recovery in regular intervals. During intervals you want to focus on obtaining the same speed for each fast burst of speed. By doing intervals you will become more efficient and your body will learn to recover better.
*I am not a certified running coach but am a marathoner, triathlete, and rower who has worked with many different coaches with different styles throughout the year and also spent two years coaching collegiate freshman rowing.
Which type of running workouts are your favorite and why? Which ones do you just hate but grit your way through anyways? Share your training stories with me!
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