Top 5 Running Workouts You Can Do As A Runner

Key Takeaways

• Incorporating various types of running workouts can prepare your body for stronger and stronger runs, prevent boredom and burnout, and reduce the risk of injury. 

• Fartlek, tempo, progression, hill repeats, and interval runs are critical for becoming a stronger, faster, and more efficient runner. 

• Learning and practicing these running workouts require a step-by-step approach, a consistent and motivated mindset, and a proper routine. 

Whether you are a beginner or professional athlete, running can improve your overall physical fitness and mental wellbeing. Running not only decreases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory conditions but also lowers and rests your heart rate and prevents chronic health conditions. 

Every runner wants to improve their sessions and make them long, fast, and strong. However, this requires you to do more than simply running. The purpose is to support your body’s musculoskeletal structure and its capacity to achieve consistency and reliability. 

Most running coaches and trainers recommend bodyweight exercises, including planks, light weights, and push-ups to strengthen the legs. Lunges and squats can also improve your endurance and ensure you run most efficiently and faster. While these exercises can benefit your body, you must look for running workouts that streamline the entire process. 

You must incorporate variety in your running workouts to push your body and muscles to new feats, ensure proper rest, and optimize the recovery period. Today’s article will discuss the top five running workouts you can do as a runner to improve your body’s endurance and stand out from the competition. Read on!

1. Fartlek

The word “Fartlek” comes from the Swedish language, which means “speed play.” Fartlek is integral to your running as it improves speed and endurance. It involves changing your pace throughout the run. Fartlek requires a runner to incorporate variations between slow jogs and fast segments.

Benefits of the Fartlek

One study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) states that runners are likelier to stick with workouts they enjoy, and fartlek is one of the best training to improve their endurance, increase motivation, and enjoy the session. Continuous running with changes in pace is the primary aspect of fartlek running. 

It helps your body adjust to the effort, allowing you to run more at a specific speed. We recommend starting with a shorter fartlek and gradually increasing the duration and length of the training to make the most of your session. According to the International Journal of Physical Education, Fitness, and Sports, fartlek runs can positively affect a runner’s pulse rate and maximum oxygen consumption. 

It also improves cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, allowing beginners and advanced runners to run for a prolonged period without experiencing too much fatigue. In a 2015 study published by the Journal of Physical Education, runners between 18 and 30 years of age who performed fartlek for six to eight weeks improved their muscle power, elasticity, stride frequency, and lactate tolerance.

How to Run a Fartlek?

Although fartlek runs are fairly simple, the duration varies based on the runner’s stamina and physical endurance. If you are a beginner, you can follow the steps below to perform a successful fartlek run. 

• Warm up your body at a slow pace for ten minutes 

• Once you have warmed up your body, run at a fast pace for one minute 

• Next, get rest for two minutes, followed by two minutes of running at a rapid pace 

• Take rest for another minute and repeat the steps above 

• Experts recommend repeating the fartlek run at least four times 

• Once done, cool down your body at a slow pace for ten minutes 

2. Tempo Run

A tempo run requires a runner to maintain a lactate threshold intensity. The lactate intensity is the fastest pace your body can sustain for 60 minutes (if you are a highly fit runner). On the other hand, if you are a less fit runner, you can maintain a lactate threshold intensity for 20 minutes. 

Tempo runs, also known as threshold runs, can increase your speed and ensure you run for a prolonged period. For example, you can warm up through a one-mile jog followed by four miles at a lactate threshold pace and one mile of simple jogging to cool down. 

A marathon-pace run is a unique form of a tempo run and an excellent workout for beginners and professionals to prepare their bodies for a marathon. An ideal marathon-pace run requires you to run for two miles at a natural pace followed by 13 miles at a marathon pace. 

Benefits of a Tempo Run

The primary goal of a tempo run is to improve your body’s endurance and ensure you run stronger, harder, and faster for an extended period. Steve Stonehouse, the director of education for STRIDE and NASM CPT, USATF-certified coach, says, “tempo runs are an excellent method to improve cardiovascular strength and aerobic fitness.” A tempo run increases motivation because it develops the mental toughness required for competitive running. 

In addition, it is a reliable way to add variety to your training program by maximizing your workout efforts and streamlining your routine. Tempo runs also improve your metabolic system by eliminating toxins and byproducts from your body, preventing muscle fatigue, and rejuvenating intracellular and intercellular processes. It also challenges your mental fortitude and makes you feel more comfortable over time. 

How to do a Tempo Run?

A 2020 study published by Frontiers highlights that incorporating tempo running in your daily workout sessions can improve your VO2 and increase your lactate threshold. Not only does a tempo run establish your endurance, but it also increases your speed over time. Here is how you can do a tempo run: 

• Warm up to ensure your muscles are ready for the run. Experts recommend aiming for 10-15 minutes or one mile of simple-paced running 

• Once you have warmed up your body, increase your tempo running pace. Make sure your breathing remains consistent. 

• Run for 20 to 40 minutes based on your stamina and maintain a steady rhythm 

• Cool down by slowing to a simple jog followed by a 10-minute walk 

• You can also perform yoga or stretching poses to recover from a tempo run 

3. Progression Run

A progression run is another workout you can do as a runner to improve your overall fitness. It begins at your natural pace and ends with a faster segment. Remember that a progression run is more challenging than a base run. However, it is easier than most interval and threshold runs. 

The recovery time of a progression run is less than other running workouts because it requires less effort. For example, you can run for five miles at a natural pace followed by one mile at a marathon pace and one mile at a half-marathon pace. 

Benefits of a Progression Run

As a runner, if you want to improve your endurance and speed, incorporate progressions runs in your training or routine. A progression run is an excellent way to warm up your body, allowing you to warm up your muscles at a slower pace and activate all muscle groups for the long run. 

In addition, a progression run increases your heart rate slowly, improves blood flow to muscles, boosts energy levels, and provides your body with essential oxygen. Moreover, it substantially affects your physical fitness compared to the traditional running workout. 

For example, when your reach the fast pace at the end of a progression run, you will have increased aerobic strength, shortened recovery period, and a much quicker pace. Injuries are common with any sports activity, including running. 

However, you can avoid injuries by incorporating progression runs in your training or routine. Because a progression run warms up your body correctly and prepares it for an intense pace, you can prevent the risk of tired legs, muscle tears, cramps, and other complications. 

How to do a Progression Run?

A beginner must not aim for more than five kilometers or three miles when performing a progression run. Otherwise, you will feel soreness in your muscles and prolong your recovery period. Follow the steps below to do a progression run: 

• Jog the first mile to feel easy and comfortable 

• Increase the speed of your running for the second mile 

• Next, push your body/legs for the last mile by maintaining the fastest speed 

• Remember, you must run 80% at a slow/easy pace and 20% at a fast pace 

4. Hill Repeats

As the name indicates, “hill repeats” are a type of running that requires a runner to repeat short segments of uphill running. Incorporating this workout into your routine can increase aerobic strength and build resistance against high-intensity fatigue. 

In addition, “hill repeats” are an excellent way to improve pain tolerance, fight inflammatory compounds, and strengthen your muscles. For example, you can run two miles of jogging to warm up your body, followed by ten 45-second hill repeats at more strengthened efforts. Next, perform two minutes of jogging to cool down. 

Benefits of Hill Repeats

You can perform hill repeats outdoors or on a treadmill within the comfort of your home/gym. Keep in mind that “hill repeats” are a form of resistance training for runners that build muscles in your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. It also strengthens your Achilles tendons and hip flexors. 

A research study published by PLOS highlights that “hill repeats” are an excellent alternative to strength or circuit training. Not only do they improve your muscle strength, but they also prevent you from lifting weights. 

A 2018 study published by Frontier concludes that a runner uses the same muscles for “hill repeats” as for sprinting, increasing their overall running speed. Researchers state that hill repeats can: 

• Increase strength and speed 

• Improve mental endurance and confidence 

• Prepare your body for long/tough running sessions 

How to Perform Hill Repeats?

• Start by warming up your body with a jog on flat ground for 10-20 minutes 

• Practice a few bodyweight exercises, such as high knees, butt kicks, squats, and lunges, to warm up your body 

• Next, start running at the bottom of a 300 to 500 feet tall hill 

• Make sure you run up the hill at a fast speed and focus on engaging your core muscles to drive your knees and legs upwards 

• Minimize your arm swings and focus on your heart rate and breathing (your heart rate will increase, and your breathing will become heavier) 

• Turn around and jog back down once you reach the hilltop 

• Inhale through your nose and exhale through the mouth to control your breathing. Remember, this also lowers your heart rate to normal 

• End your session with a cool down by going for a simple jog for 5-10 minutes 

• You can also perform static stretching to normalize and prevent soreness in your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles

5. Intervals

Interval runs involve repeated shorter segments of quick-pace running. Each segment is separated by standing recoveries or slow jogging. Intervals allow you to streamline your speed and pack your pace into a single workout without fatigue. 

There are two types of intervals running: short intervals and long intervals. Experts recommend running intervals on the track to avoid injuries and more intense complications. 

Long intervals involve running in 600-1,200 meters segments in the 5K race pace range. It requires a runner to separate the segments with easy jogging recoveries. Long intervals are an excellent way to strengthen your body and develop resistance against fatigue. 

For example, you can jog for one mile to warm up your body, followed by 5 x 1K at a 5K race pace with 400 meters of standing or jogging recoveries. Jogging for at least one mile is essential to cool down and complete the session. 

On the other hand, short intervals involve 100-400 meters segments at a 1,500- race pace. The purpose of short intervals is to increase speed, build resistance against fatigue, improve running economy, and enhance pain tolerance. 

As a distance runner, you must incorporate shorter, faster intervals in your training routine or cycle to increase speed and endurance. For example, you can run or jog for one mile to warm up, followed by ten 300 meters at one mile-race pace with 200 meters jogging or standing recoveries. Jog for at least one mile at a slow speed to cool down. 

Benefits of Intervals

Intervals offer psychological benefits to runners, allowing them to overcome the boredom of running long distances. It enables you to work at a higher intensity during a running session and improve and maintain your mental focus. 

In addition, intervals offer bio-mechanical benefits, allowing you to feel “faster” and more “strengthened” with improved endurance. Running through intervals increases your self-confidence and motivates you to run faster, increasing your overall speed and preparing your body for a professional competition. 

How to do Intervals?

• Start by warming up your body. Warming up your body is essential to performing high-intensity exercise regardless of your fitness or stamina level. 

• So, start with an easy jog for 10-15 minutes to loosen your muscles and increase blood flow to all body parts. 

• For a simple workout, you can start with a 30-second fast-paced interval (about 80% overall effort), followed by 2-3 minutes of recovery. Repeat this as many times as you see fit.

• Once you have increased your endurance and pace for 2-3 weeks, you can increase the duration/length of your high-intensity run. 

• Always opt for and maintain a proper running form to make the most of your workout. Broaden your chest and keep your shoulders up when running at a faster speed. Avoid swinging your arms and tilting down your head. 

• Drink enough water before intervals to maintain optimal hydration levels. 

• Cooling down is integral to recovering from interval training. Wind your body down through jogging or stretching exercises for five minutes

A Final Recap

In summary, intervals and hill repeats are very good workouts to increase leg turnover, power, and speed. Intervals can also help improve endurance. Tempos serve as great workouts to teach proper pace for specific race, but also help your body maintain high stamina and endurance levels. Progression runs are fantastic to improve endurance and learn better “feel” for specific paces. Lastly, a fartlek teaches your body to easily adjust to different efforts. 

By now, you should have a good understanding of all the major running workouts. Each workout type listed above are good for any general training routine. However, these workouts can be modified based on more specific running goals you may have. Until next time!

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