Who doesn’t love running? OK, maybe a lot of us. (Personally, I hate running while I’m doing it, but I feel amazing afterward.) We ran together last September, and now it’s time to lace back up.
This time, we’re going to focus on a specific type of running workout each week. All you have to do is find one day to try it out, at whatever level is appropriate to you. If you like it, keep it in your schedule as you go forward.
The reason we’re doing this is because it’s easy to get bored with running when you do it the same way (and the same time, and the same distance) all the time. That also isn’t the best way to improve.
If you look at people who run a lot, they’ll talk about speedwork and tempo runs and hill repeats — every run has a purpose. Some are fast, some are slow, some follow a strict schedule, and some are just for fun. So this month, we get to explore all that.
Here’s your first assignment: Try strides. As Jason Fitzgerald explained in a post a few years back, this is a simple exercise you can add on to any run:
Strides are simply 20-30 second accelerations done after an easy run. They can be done almost anywhere — a parking lot (just be careful!), your street, a long driveway, or a field. Start by running at an easy pace, and then gradually get faster until you’re at about 95% of your maximum effort. Hold that for about 2-3 seconds, and then gradually slow to a stop. That’s one stride.
Take 30 seconds to a full minute of walking or standing rest in between each stride Start with four and increase to six or eight strides. Keep in mind that strides are relatively short, so while they’re fast (well, for a few seconds), they shouldn’t be hard at all—they’re fun! I’ve discussed strides in more detail here if you want to delve in.
I did some strides at the end of my easy run this morning, and I have to admit they’re just plain fun — you’re flying along, but not long enough to make your lungs or legs start to hurt. Strides are also fun at the end of a warmup, before you start your day’s real workout, so keep these in your back pocket as we go forward.