Have you caught the running bug yet? Many newbies are hitting the road for exercise, competition, and fun. But are you getting the most from your training runs or are you stagnating by doing the same workout over and over again? The problem with never varying your workout is that your body will stop improving. Changing your running speed or distance will help you grow stronger and faster, and improve calorie burn in the process. You will also have more fun adding variety into your program.
If you are running competitively or even just to improve your fitness, there are 3 types of runs you should be doing on a regular basis. There are many more types of training runs you can incorporate as you advance in your speed, endurance, and strength, but these 3 will help you establish a solid base to get you started. When you become comfortable with these, add in new techniques and reap the benefits.
Long Slow Distance (LSD)
As a beginning to intermediate runner, longer and longer slow distances are perhaps what you are most comfortable with. Running at an easy, conversational pace, LSD’s are great for building endurance, strengthening your bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles, and establishing a strong cardio-respiratory base to carry you forward. When doing LSD’s, your body lays down an increasing number of capillaries to help you carry oxygen to working muscles, and it learns how to best utilize fuel and fat stores. Most runners can expect to spend about 80% of training time running LSD’s.
When you want to develop more speed, tempo runs are a good way to start. A tempo run is a shorter run done at a faster pace, to help prepare for race conditions. Your pace should be fast enough that you are working hard but not going into oxygen debt, where you are completely out of breath. It can stand on its own or added, as a tempo segment, in the middle of a longer run with warm up and recovery miles before and after. You will learn to go faster on tired legs, gain strength, and increased confidence in your ability to go faster in races. Your fitness will improve with regular tempo runs.
Intervals and Sprints
Many runners set aside a day every week just for intervals or sprints. This workout, which targets speed and power can be done on a track or where ever you normally run. Characterized by short, fast intervals interspersed with a recovery jog or walk, intervals are good for increasing leg turnover and improving the amount of oxygen your body can process. It not only helps with speed but also burns fat and calories. Intervals and sprints can be either time based (1 min sprint/3 min walk) or distance based (200 meter sprint/200 meter walk). To change your workout, you can vary the times or distances. Sprinting is considered a whole body exercise and is great for improving your ability to burn fat