Whether you’re an avid runner or you’re just getting started in the running game, you’re probably aware that this type of exercise is great for both your physical and mental health. Not only do you need no equipment to fit in a run (except some running shoes, of course), you can also incorporate a run no matter where you are or what season you’re dealing with. Even if it’s snowing, raining, hailing, or just plain cold, the treadmill is always an option.
With spring around the corner up here on the east coast, it’s nearly time for outdoor workouts to come into effect. If you’re anything like us, you can’t wait to feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the crisp, natural air in your lungs as you survey your favorite running routes.
However, any workout is only as effective as the days on which you change it up. While running your classic daily three miles at the same pace can feel great (and there’s definitely room for this), it’s also important to change your daily workouts to maximize effectiveness. Without incorporating different workouts, it’s difficult to truly improve.
So how can you change up your routine to maximize your workouts while still fitting in a good run?
- Work your speed. If you’re typically a one-pace runner, fitting in some speed work is essential to bettering your skills. Working on your speed once a week will make you a faster runner in the long haul, helping you beat your best times, maximize calorie burn, and build leg muscle. To fit in speed work outdoors, choose a marker (say, your neighbor’s house) and sprint a particular distance, then jog the next few houses. You can also head over to your local track and choose sprinting distances that way. The treadmill makes it even easier to fit in speed work by increasing your speed slightly for a set amount of time on the machine.
- Go the distance. Push yourself to go a little further each time you run as the best way to build your endurance. The long run is all about keeping a consistent heart rate, so you’ll want to build up your mileage slowly. If you’re a one-mile-and-done runner, add a few minutes of slow jogging at the beginning and end this week. No matter how long you typically run for, aim to add 1-2 minutes of running to your routine each week. This will slowly help you build up your endurance to go the distance.
- Work in intervals. High-intensity interval training is a super effective way to get your heart pumping, build muscle, and torch serious calories. This type of workout incorporates intervals of your highest intensity alternating with intervals of rest. To do this outdoors, pick a hill and sprint up it, then slowly jog down (and break at the bottom of you need to). If you’re indoors, time yourself sprinting for 30 seconds at a time (as hard as you can go), or increase the treadmill incline to as high as you can make it without needing to stop, then alternate with a slow jog for 30-seconds.
- Prioritize a slow jog. Every body needs recovery time, and the slow jog is perfect for that. While it may feel like you aren’t pushing yourself, this type of run is essential to letting your muscles recover after a week of hard training. The key to keeping this a recovery run is to make sure your heart rate stays low. Recovery runs also give you a chance to check in with your body: how do your muscles feel? Are your feet sore? Are you struggling to get through this run? If so, you may be overtraining or prone for an injury. Use slow jogs to check in and ensure you stay on track with no snafus in sight.
What’s your favorite kind of running workout? How do you make sure you’re constantly improving?