Monday, March 11, 2013

My Favorite Workouts (Part II): Running sessions

This is Part II of a series on some of my favorite workouts where I share a few running sessions I've incorporated into my training over the past year. Check out Part I on swim sessions here.

Modified Time Trial ("Mini Races")

This is one of my favorite types of workouts to do on the weekend with a bit more time, but I'll usually always keep the "main set" portion of the workout to 45-90 minutes. The example I have below is one I used several times in my build-up to the Philadelphia Marathon last year and was critical for three main reasons in helping me post a Boston qualifying time. First, the goal was to progress towards race specificity by simulating race pace (or slightly faster) during the 25 minute time trial. The second aspect was mental. Using 30 minutes as a structure for each interval (including the recovery) was something I carried over mentally to a full marathon race. Sure, for a full marathon at a 3 hour pace it's essentially doubling the set, but breaking the race up into smaller intervals, or "mini races," allows the mind to focus on something a bit more proximal rather than the daunting challenge of 26.2 miles. Lastly, I love this workout because it's all about feel. It's more about getting in tune with what 25 minutes at race pace feels like.

2-3 mile warm-up

3x25 minutes at slightly faster than race pace with the aim of covering a greater distance with each subsequent interval (You can vary the time of the interval based on the distance you're training for).

5 minute recovery between each set

1-2 mile cool down

This is a session I do in my neighborhood on about a 1/3 mile stretch of road. The great part about it is the beginning is a 100-150 yard incline, then it's relatively flat, and ends with a 100-150 yard decline. Hence the name table-top - the incline/decline on either end are the table legs and the flat is the table top. The workout is structured around 2:00 minute intervals, with roughly the first 20-30 seconds on incline, the middle 1:00-1:20 segment on a relatively flat segment, and the final 20-30 seconds on a downhill. Similar to the short high-intensity interval swim workout from my favorite workouts swim positing, the goal is consistency. If you go out too hard on the first two or three, you won't have enough in the tank for the last two or three. After that 10th

10-15 minute warm-up

10x 2:00 minutes at faster than 5k pace with a :25 second rest between sets

5 minute cool down

Incline or Speed (on treadmill)
This is one of those workouts you dread, but feel incredible once it's over. Similar to the previous workout, the fact that it's interval based makes it a good weekday workout focused on speed. I never used to enjoy treadmill workouts, but the controlled environment really allows you to dial in on specific paces. As you progress through each interval, alternate between increasing the incline (I usually do by 1 or 1.5) or the speed, which I usually do about 15 seconds. By the time you get to the last interval, you're essentially running faster than your 5k pace (above lactate threshold) and up a fairly challenging incline. 

10-15 minute warm-up

6x 2:00 minutes with 1:00 recovery, increasing the incline by one on the odd numbers and increasing speed by 10-20 seconds on the even numbers (or whatever your desired interval).

5 minute cool down


Give them a try and let me know how they measure up. Stay tuned for the next posting in this series where I'll share a few of my favorite strength training exercises.

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