When you see running workouts, you may see terms like "sprints," "easy jog," "fartleks," "intervals," "gassers," and even "goal-pace running." They all are references to different types of pace workouts, and they are all different -- some more different than others.
It is easy to get confused as to how you should train for timed runs, especially if you are new to running, have recently lost weight, still have weight to lose, or need to pass a fitness test.
Here is an email from a young man who has made tremendous progress with both running and weight loss:
Stew, I need to pass a 1.5-mile fitness test run and get my time below 12 minutes (11:58 is the slowest I can go). I am currently at 13 minutes but have dropped from 16 minutes as well as 25 lbs at the same time. I still have some weight to lose but within the standard. Any recommendations? Still trying.
Great job with dropping mile pace and weight! Those are great accomplishments and show you have been really working hard. The good news is you do not need to change much of your current effort, but you do need to start training to run at a faster pace in order to achieve the next set of goals. And maybe you can lose some more weight too (which will make you faster).
Here is how I would do it:
Evaluate how much you are running per week now, and keep it at that mileage, but do it at a faster pace. You can run every other day with non-impact cardio activities like bike, swim, elliptical in place of running if you feel your joints, shins and feet need a break from the impact. But if you are feeling fine, try the following:
Your new goal pace is to be able to run a quarter mile in less than 2 minutes. You do not need to run it in 1:30 or even 1:45; instead, learn how to run each lap of the following workout at 1:55-1:58. This will give you a few seconds of "gravy time" in case you slow down on the last few laps, but is not so fast that you blow all of your energy out in the first lap as many people do. You have to think GOAL PACE strategy.
Here is the workout:
Run 1/4 mile warmup -- any pace/stretch
Repeat 8-10 times:
- Run 1/4 mile at goal mile pace (1:55)
- Walk 100m
Optional: Rest with another quick exercise for 1 minute (situps, pushups, squats, lunges) Alternate above "rest exercises" every other set if needed, or skip altogether.
I recommend the above workout 3 days a week, every other day. On the days in between, you can opt to do more running or non-impact cardio. However, the goal is different. Push yourself on these shorter/faster runs to help build your overall cardiovascular conditioning and speed. Mix in sprints, intervals, shuttle runs and fast/slow fartleks however you prefer. If you run, limit the distance to maybe a mile but you do a series of 50m, 100m, 200m and 300m, and 400m sprints.
Warm up with a fast 400m or 2-minute bike/light stretch.
Increase speed each set and avoid full sprints if you are getting older, have had some issues with tight hamstrings/calves, or previously had pulled hamstrings. But you can still run faster than your goal pace above. That is the goal of the days in-between. Get winded each set and rest by walking back to the starting line.
Repeat 5 times
- 50m fast runs -- build up to full speed by set 4 or 5 (close to full speed)
- Walk back to starting line
Repeat 4 times
- 100m fast runs -- build up to full speed (after a few sets)
- Walk back to starting line
Repeat 3 times
- 200m fast runs -- fast -- much faster than 1 minute (half lap)
- Rest with 200m walk
Repeat 2 times
- 300m fast runs -- fast as you can
- Rest with 1 minute walk
- Grand finale -- 400m fast as you can.
- Stretch/cool-down jog or bike.
If you prefer non-impact activity, try bike pyramids, Tabata intervals, and fast/slow intervals on the bike, elliptical, or rowing machine. If you are into swimming -- push hard with the swim and work at 15-20 minute workouts in the pool.
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