I ran until I could run no more
You love running, so much that it’s all you do. Running can be an escape, it can be a time for the mind to wonder off to other places for that time you are running. You run anywhere from 5k to 10k, sometimes more. And that was fine. Now, you want to increase your speed, finish your runs quicker. Or maybe run longer. Or, how about running pain free? All good options and endeavors. So what can you do, keep running, right? Sort of, but not exclusively.
Doing nothing but one exercise no matter what is harmful to the body. You will develop muscle imbalances and increase the risk of temporary or even permanent injury. And doing nothing but one exercise will not help you in getting better doing that exercise. I know, it sounds counterproductive. If I want to be a better runner shouldn’t doing nothing but running get me there? No, it won’t. I know that sounds strange but if you start to add exercises to your week that are different than running in this case you will notice an improvement. Especially if those exercises work the opposite muscles that you exercise regularly through running.
I’ve mentioned it before and I’m going to mention it again. Interval training. Interval training brings many benefits such as increased aerobic and anaerobic thresholds – think of having better cardio performance. Increased resting metabolism, more efficient processing of glucose allowing your body to be more efficient with the fuel it has, and more. Many years ago when marathon runners incorporated interval training their run times decreased allowing them to win gold at many Olympic races.
Let me list how you can add interval training to your workout:
- Sprinting – Depending on your fitness level, you can carry out this routine for either 4 or 8 minutes. Start by taking 5 to 10 minutes to warm up by running at a light pace that keeps your heart rate at around 120 bpm’s. Then it’s time to start. For 20 seconds you are going to sprint as hard as you can. Then, when finished the 20 second sprint, you will rest for 10 seconds. By rest I mean to stop and do nothing. Don’t sit down though because you are not done! After the 10 second rest you are going to sprint again for 20 seconds and then rest again for 10. Do this for the 4 or 8 minute time you have set out. Seems easy right? If it is easy you aren’t doing it right. When I stated that your sprint is as hard as you can go, that’s what it has to be. 100% output for the 20 seconds. You feel defeated when doing it, but later you will feel better, trust me. Try to do this once a week if you can. If you are a more advanced athlete, you can try this 2 -3 times a week. Be sure to get the proper amount of rest and be sure to fuel up after with some quality carbs.
- Jump Squats – Think of jump squats as doing squats without any weights. Bring yourself to the downward position of the squat and leap up as high as you can go. When you land don’t land with your body rigid. Let your body go back down to the squat position not letting your joints absorb all that energy. Try not to lean forward when doing this. Be sure to get as low as you can and be sure to jump as high as you can. For jump squats, I want you to try an interval time that brings your heart rate up to about 90% of max. How long was that? 30, 45, 60 seconds? Whatever the time, double it for the rest period. Now for this rest period you are going to exercise at about a 60% heart rate. This is called an active rest. Think of doing things such as a jog on the spot, jumping jacks, or even planking or push ups. Now do this for anywhere from 10 minutes to 25 minutes based on your fitness level.
- Burpees – Burpees are an awesome exercise for working the whole body. No one likes them because they suck the life out of you. If you don’t know what a burpee is, think of doing a jump squat but when you are at the bottom of the squat you are going to kick your feet out behind you so you are in a push up position. Don’t do a push up though. Bring your feet back under you then jump up just like in the jump squat. For the interval times use the jump squat example above. You can actually alternate between jump squats and burpees if you feel like it.
- Squat Jacks – This one is a great leg burner. It will really help you with running because it’s a great quad killer. Get yourself in a squat position where your upper legs are parallel with the ground if you can. Don’t go any lower. You will find you will probably be a bit higher than parallel especially when you start to get tired. Have your hands in front of you like a boxer would. While in this position, move your feet side to side quickly like you were doing jumping jacks. That’s it! For the interval times use the jump squat example above. Again, you can use this exercise exclusively or intermixed with the other examples that use the same interval times.
Does it matter
All these exercises can be used in any type of interval training be it 20 on 10 off ratio, or the rest period being double that of the work. I guess the point of this post is you really should be doing interval training. Try it. Don’t overdo it though. Any type of interval training is hard on the body. Be sure to get adequate rest between. Try interval training for a month and see what happens to your run times. I know you will do better. Just keep with it.
Yours in health,