Running is fun. Runners know that. That’s why we run. What a lot of runners may not know is that workouts (faster, harder efforts) can be fun, too. These workouts can give you a sense of accomplishment, make you faster, and be an easy way to measure your progress. They can help you reach new fitness levels, prepare you for your next race, and show you that you are faster than you think.
If you’re like me, your running is often done on your own and is arranged around working a standard 40-hour work week. This can make it tough to get a workout in due to accessibility and time constraints, among other things. I wanted to find a few simple workouts that I could do anywhere, anytime, with or without training partners. My goal was to have workouts to do without a track and without having to constantly check my watch to see if I was on pace. With my Go-To Workouts you can use a GPS watch for mile splits or go by feel. Here are a few tips based on my experience.
One of my favorite workouts is a progression run – simple and to the point. Start out at whatever pace is comfortable for you and speed up with each subsequent mile. At first it can be tough to find the right balance between cutting down to the point where it isn’t sustainable and not cutting down enough. With practice you will learn how to do this successfully. The length of the progression run, as does the pace of each mile, depends on where you are initially with your training. My standard progression run is 7 miles with a cool down mile at the end. This workout is easy to track if you have a GPS watch or similar device that can measure mile splits, but it isn’t a big deal if you don’t have one. You can always ditch the watch and run by feel – sometimes it’s good to run without technology.
Mile 1 - 7:25 min/mile
Mile 2 - 7:15 min/mile
Mile 3 - 7:05 min/mile
Mile 4 - 6:55 min/mile
Mile 5 - 6:45 min/mile
Mile 6 - 6:35 min/mile
Mile 7 - 6:25 min/mile
Mile 8 - 7:25 min/mile
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Timed Intervals
Another one of my favorite workouts is a timed interval workout that can easily be done without a GPS watch. Begin with a warm up at a pace and length that is comfortable for you (for me it is about 15 minutes). Then run hard for 5 minutes, recover, run hard for 4 minutes, recover, run hard for 3 minutes, recover, run hard for 2 minutes, recover, run hard for 1 minute, and recover. For this workout, as with the progression run, you can tailor it to match where you are in your training. For example, you can take as much recovery as you need and you can choose to do a walk recovery or a jog recovery. I take a 1 minute jog recovery between interval. With practice, you can take less recovery or move from a walk recovery to a jog recovery. The point of this workout is to pick up the pace with each subsequent interval of hard minutes. For example, your 1 minute interval should be at a faster pace than your 5 minute interval. If you get to a point where this workout seems too easy, you can add a bonus mile at the end. After your 1 minute, recover for a mile (or whatever you see fit) and then run another mile hard and cool down afterwards.
Disclaimer: When you start adding workouts to your routine, it’s important to remember that you should NOT crank the mileage or intensity too much too soon. Make sure to listen to your body to help prevent injury.