Although we all have to put one foot in front of the other in order to run, it’s a different process for everyone. Some athletes may pronate more than others, some may heel-strike while others toe-strike, some may shuffle rather than lift. The differences can go on and on. In the end, you have to be aware of how much pounding your body can handle and the best ways to recover.
Here are some workouts and tips that I can share not only as an athlete but as a run coach too.
- Pickup – a pickup run is a run that starts off at a comfortable warmup pace and then has a hard effort in the middle before a cool down. A typical early season pickup workout for me is a 2 mi jog, followed by a 3 mile hard run at 5k – 10k pace, and then 2 miles recovery at slightly higher than marathon pace. The recovery part will seem easy after the hard pickup work. That’s the point. You will recover at pace and train your body to understand what it feels like. As the season progresses and fitness develops more, the pickup can be extended. The pace does not have to be dramatically faster but if you can run hard for 4-5 miles, then it will translate to race-day achievements.
- Tempo – Unlike the pickup, the tempo run is a hard, continuous effort for the duration of the workout. The level can be determined by your own comfort or by heart rate. In the early season, you should start off with a 5-6 mile tempo run. As the season progresses, so will the distance. By your peak time, you should be able to complete an 8+ mile tempo run.
- Intervals – Intervals differ from both of the previous workouts because you recover between hard efforts. The intervals can be designed by distance or by time. An example would be 3 minutes hard, 1 minute recovery for 16 minutes. After the first 16 minutes, run consistently at an easy pace to ensure recovery and then repeat again. Continue to build up the length of the intervals.
- Long Slow Distance– The key here is to make this a slower run. I have difficulty myself going slow but the distance and comfort is more important than hammering out at a fast pace. Get the endurance work done.
- REST DAY – Listen to your body. You don’t have to run every day or hard every time. Take a break. A day off will make you sharper in the long run.