Whether your ultimate goal is to run in your town’s annual 5k, or to simply improve your health, most people begin running with the simple goal of running a certain length of time or a set distance. You’ll quickly discover, though, that if you just stick to your standard routine, the 1.5 mile run you’ve been doing every day for two weeks will no longer have the same impact on your body.
In order to continue to see results (getting faster 5k times, or seeing the number on the scale get lower) you have to make it a point to add some variety into your workout. When you keep your body on its toes by varying your routine, you’ll get stronger, leaner, and build endurance, because you will continue to strengthen and tone your muscles, while enhancing your lung capacity. One of the easiest ways to add a little variety to your workout (without diving into a pool, or hitting the weight room), is to head down to your local high school and hit the track. Since tracks are a standard distance of measure (one lap is 400 meters, four laps is about one mile), it’s easy to set up workouts where you can exert and pace yourself for a specific distance.
Here’s an easy workout that’s great for runners of all levels - from the casual jogger, to the elite marathoner.
This workout is exactly what it sounds like - running the corners of the track. For this particular workout, the length of time it takes you to run one lap isn’t important. Don’t feel compelled to run at an all-out sprint; the most important thing is that you are pushing yourself enough to raise your heart rate and to feel a little challenged.
1. Begin at the 100 meter dash starting line (the beginning of a straight-away).
2. Run down the straightaway at a moderate pace.
Note: You can jog this portion if you’re new to the running game, or take it at your typical training pace if you’ve been at it for a while.
3. As you approach the corner, pick up the pace!
Note: You should run this at a pretty quick clip, about 85% of your full sprint pace.
4. You’ve reached the second straightaway, but don’t stop running!
Note: Slow your pace to where it was for the first straightaway and take it easy for the next 100 meters.
5. Is that another corner?!
Note: As you approach the final 100 meters, pick up the pace again!
6. Now rest.
Note: Don't rest for too long. Give yourself between 30 seconds and 1 minute of rest, but no more.
7. Repeat the lap!
Note: Do this a total of 4 times (1 mile!).
If you add this workout to your regular training repertoire, you should find that your corners become quicker, and your recovery time is shortened between sets. Ultimately, you'll improve your lung capacity and see improved times on your longer runs as well.
Image credit: Awesome Joolie, http://www.flickr.com/photos/awesomejoolie/4165670752/sizes/z/in/photostream/