Sunday, April 19, 2009

Running Improvement with Quality Workouts

With the spring weather getting better, more runners are getting off the treadmills and hitting the roads and trails. There are more 5K and 10K races every weekend and we've got at least 4 or 5 months before getting serious about fall marathon training.

But be honest; are you satisfied with your performance? You're a year older this season, and we slow as we age. Do you want to jump start your speed, strength, and endurance? Then it's time to get scientific about training.

Hillwork Builds Strength and Stamina

It's easy to incorporate hillwork workouts into your training plan. Nothing else will boost your stamina and strength like it.

For some runners, like me, hills are few and far between. So what do I do? I rely on bridges, usually the Kemah Bridge. It's just a few minutes from my house so it's very accessible. It's also where I like to put in for a day of kayak fishing.

Since this bridge is steep but short (about a quarter mile from approach to peak) there are 2 workouts that I rely on. The first is easy, just over and back. How hard I attack it varies.

The second workout is running up hard for 60 seconds, then turning and jogging down for half that time. Then, turn and hit it hard uphill again. I keep repeating this until I hit the peak, then jog down easy and do it all over again.

Not surprisingly, I call this the "leapfrog" workout.

Speedwork Builds... Speed!

To get faster, speedwork workouts are essential. I'm lucky to have two local high school tracks available. The one thing I have to remember is to really pay attention to my body. It's easy to get injured. Stretching is key.

Fartlek (speedplay) is also a great option if a track is not available. It doesn't seem to be as trendy as it used to be, but it's fun! And for those who just think the track is boring, it might be just what the doctor ordered. Give it a try.

The bottom line? To have a better running year than last, I'm going to have to focus on target workouts more than ever. After all, I'm not getting any younger!

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