Posts Tagged ‘speed workouts’

woman running up hill

Maintain a consistent effort as you run up hills.

If you’re like most runners, you dread hills, complain about them, trudge through them and even avoid them. But hills can be your allies, even your secret running weapons. Doing hill workouts improves your running power, strengthening the muscles that make you a faster runner. Hills can also boost your endurance. Once you know how to use them, hills can be the place where you make winning moves in races. When other runners crumble, you will triumph.

Here’s how to make hills work for you:

  • Be consistent. Many runners panic at the onset of a hill, expending extra effort driving up the hill at the beginning, losing steam by the middle and all-out struggling to maintain a jog by the top. You want to exert only slightly more effort running uphill than you do on flat surfaces. Strive to maintain that effort level until you pass the top of the hill.
  • Relax, hills don’t bite. The extra effort of running uphill can be enough to make you nervous, but take a deep breath and relax. Be confident that you can do it and your body will be more relaxed, making it easier to reach the top of the hill. Panicking will cause your muscles to tighten up and your breathing to become shallow, making your uphill run more of a battle than it needs to be.
  • Focus on form. Your running form will not only help you reach the top more smoothly but will give you something to think about besides the hill. Drive your arms forward and back as you run up the hill, eliminating any sideways motion. Take shorter than normal strides up the hill, lifting your knees enough to propel you upwards. Keep your chest up and posture straight, leaning forward slightly if you need to but not slumping over.
  • Maintain your pace through the crest of the hill. Many runners expend too much energy running hills and slow down near the top. If you’ve maintained a consistent effort level, you will be able to run through the top of the hill and then smoothly transition to your regular stride. This is a good time to pass people in races as the runners who expended too much energy on the hill fall back, struggling.
  • Congratulate yourself, you made it up the hill! And welcome the next one as a familiar ally, knowing you’ve made peace with the beast.

Whether you want to shave minutes off your race time or simply add some variety to your running routine, speed workouts can fill the bill. With the right speed workout program, you can run faster and stronger, feeling better than ever during your races and runs.

What is an Interval?

Intervals  are a popular form of speed training that you can adjust to suit your fitness level and training goals. An interval workout involves doing repeats of high-intensity running alternating with periods of active recovery, such as slow jogging or walking. Interval distances commonly range from 100 meters to one-mile repeats.

How Far

Choose an interval distance that suits your training goals. In general, the further the race or event you are training for, the longer your intervals should be. If you are training for a marathon, for instance, try doing one-mile repeats. If you’re a sprinter, on the other hand, go for shorter intervals of 100 or 200 meters. Middle distance track runners can do intervals ranging from 200 or 400 meters to 800 meters or one-mile repeats.

A track offers an ideal place to do intervals.

How Fast

The object of interval training is to train your body to run fast and to perform at a high intensity even while fatigued. Pace your intervals so that you run about the same time for each one. Beginners often make the mistake of going out too fast and doing an all-out sprint for the first interval and slowing down to a jog by the last interval, which will not help your race performance. Calculate your interval pace using a mileage chart or use your heart rate or perceived exertion rate to gauge when you are exerting 80 to 85 percent effort.

How Many

The number of intervals you do should depend on your fitness level and training goals. Most runners do between four and 10 repeats. If in doubt, start slow and do a low number of repeats. You can add more repeats to your program once your body adjusts to interval training, usually within a few weeks.

Recovery

Jog for at least 10 minutes to warm up before your intervals, and do the same to cool down after your workout. Between intervals, jog or walk to recover. Your recovery time should be twice as long as your interval time. So if you run 400-meter repeats in 90 seconds each, recover by doing 3-minute jogs between intervals.