Feeling like you have hit a plateau in your training or just getting bored with running the same route at the same pace every time?!?! Then it is time to mix up your training! Here are a few different fun run workouts to incorporate into your weekly training that will not only help your running funk, but also help increase your speed, strength and power.
STRIDES: Strides are a gradual build or pick up that ends in about your 5k pace (or 85% perceived effort). Usually they are anywhere from 10-30sec long taking a full recovery between each walking back to the start of the stride, which can be anywhere from 1-2 minutes making sure you are starting your next stride not breathing heavily. The purpose of a stride is to work on your run mechanics and quick leg turnover. They are an easy way to incorporate speed work into your running without it being hard on your body or causing injury. The things to think about when doing strides are: forward body lean from your ankles, relaxed body position, picking your ankles up, mid-foot strike, and quick leg turnover. Great times to include strides are; at the end of an easy recovery or aerobic run to work on a quicker leg turnover, before a track workout to activate and recruit those muscles before you ask them to do a fast and hard workout, or on race day as a pre-race facilitation to help warm up your muscles.
FARTLEK: Otherwise known as “speed play”, fartlek runs are great on mid to longer runs. During a fartlek run you are alternating our pace between a slower easier effort and faster bursts of varying distances. It is key to pace yourself on your hard efforts so that you are running your last effort as fast as your first. Make sure that you recover between your fast efforts so you are not breathing heavily when you are starting your next hard effort. This is a great way to build speed and strength. Be consistent and try to add speed into one of your runs each week.
HILLS: Running a hilly course or hill repeats is a great way to build your muscular strength and endurance, as well as your mental toughness. When running hills make sure to work on that quicker leg turnover and do not bend at your waist, keep a nice tall body again leaning into the hill from your ankles, not bending at the waist, lifting and driving your knees into the hill. When you feel your form is going bad slow it down or choose a less difficult grade of hill. Recovery is running down the hill with a quick and light leg turnover. Just be careful to not overdue the hill training as it can be an easy way to get injured.
TRAIL RUNNING: Not only is it scenic and beautiful to go out and run on trails, but there are great benefits to your running as well! Running on trails is more challenging than running on the road and is a great way to build strength in your running. Trails are also soft and are easier on your joints as opposed to running on hard asphalt as the soft surface of the trails absorb more of the shock. Because of the variable surface, you are naturally adjusting and changing your stride and can become more explosive with it. As your body moves to adapt to the changing terrain you will begin to “find” and strengthen your core. When you move from trial running back to the road, you will notice how much “easier” it is.
Try incorporating one or more of these fun runs into your weekly running routine and as long as you stay consistent with it you will see improvements in your overall running. It might also be the cure to your running blues and just what you needed to help bring enjoyment to your running once again! But remember, CONSISTENCY is key!