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No Excuses - Three Keys to Effective Training for Runners

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 0

Lose the Shoes!

Running Shoes

Going for an occasional barefoot run will help strengthen micro-muscles that are otherwise neglected.

After reading my previous article “No Excuses – Three Keys to Start Running Now,” you have created a rock solid routine of getting up and consistently cranking out some quality runs.  That’s awesome, but what comes next?  Now that you’ve established a healthy habit of consistently training, what is the next step in becoming a better runner?  Behold: sprints, threshold, and long runs.

The first key is sprints.  Quick bursts of uber-intense speed, sprints are for developing raw speed and power.  Design a sprinting workout combining short duration runs at 90% or more of your maximum heart rate or effort level with plenty of rest in between the intervals or repetitions.  Some examples of a sprinting workout may look like this:


1)      10 x 100m at 100% with 100m walk back to the start or in between repetitions or “reps”.


2)      5 x 200m at 95% with 200m walk or two minutes rest in between reps.


3)      4 x 400m at 90% with 400m jog or three minutes rest in between reps.


1)      20x 100m at 100% with 100m light jog back to the start


2)      20x “fly” 90’s (run 30m gradually picking up pace, then run 30m as fast as possible, and finally run the last 30m slowing down) with 30 seconds rest in between or a light jog back to the start


3)      3x cutting the chain off your neighbor’s pissed-off pit bull after spraying it with water and repeatedly poking at it with a stick.

A good training technique to implement with your sprinting workouts is barefoot running.  Constantly wearing shoes is like having your feet always in a cast.  Getting some runs in on a football field or other grassy area free of sharp objects and other harmful debris can help train all the micro-muscles that otherwise get neglected.

The second key is threshold runs.  Typically the least favorite by most runners, a threshold run is typically done at about 70 to 80% of a person’s max heart rate or effort level.  This is the “threshold” at which a person would quickly burn out if they run any harder or faster (makes sense now doesn’t it).  Threshold runs provide the MOST effective training benefit per minute invested!  Some examples of a threshold workout could include:


1)      5x 1000m at 5k race pace with 3 minutes rest in between repetitions or “reps”


2)      3x 1 mi at 5k race pace with 5 minutes rest between reps


3)      2x 20 minutes at 10k race pace with 10 minutes rest between reps


1)      10x 1000m at 5k race pace with 3 minutes between reps


2)      8x 1 mi at 5k race pace with 5 minutes rest between reps


3)      50 minute fartlek run (50 minute run with spontaneous or scheduled bursts of increased pace for 10 to 30 seconds at a time) This can also be done as a group run where individuals take turn leading the pack with spontaneous bursts of speed. 


The third key is long runs.  Especially crucial for developing extra capillaries to pump fresh oxygen-juiced blood through your legs, these runs should be at least 8 miles long, but typically no more than 20 miles (unless you are a pose-running machine and can keep solid form after that long).  After eight miles of running your body will go into a capillary-producing-hyper drive cranking out exponentially increasing amounts of capillaries in your muscles.  This allows you to do longer, harder, better workouts and races in the future.  Examples might look like this:


1)      Run for 60 to 90 minutes at an “easy jog” pace (you should be able to hold a conversation while running)


2)      Run 8 miles.  (don’t make this complicated)


3)      Run 4 or 5 miles out and try to beat your time coming back in


1)      Run for 90 to 120 minutes without a watch


2)      Have your buddy drop you off 12 miles from home with nothing but a water bottle


3)      Without a watch, run for what you feel to be five or six miles, turn back and then check your actual distance with google maps or drive it using the odometer of your car.  (This is a great way to develop a better feel for your body’s rhythm.)


As you can see, your long runs should not be complicated.  In fact, the simpler they are, the more enjoyable they become and the more you will get out of it.  Make an effort of losing the watch, it’s too easy to get caught up with time and numbers when all that really matters is focusing on technique and just having fun. 

Use sprints, threshold, and long runs once per week or every other week as the core of your running routine.  If you only ever do three runs per week it should be these; these are the workouts that will make you become faster, stronger, and a more competitive athlete.  Remember: tracking progress and goals is important, but do not allow yourself to get so caught up in the numbers that you forget to have fun!

DO IT NOW:  Add a sprint, threshold, and long run into your weekly training routine.

Lose the Watch!

Lose the Watch

Going for a run without being distracted by your watch can add a fresh experience to your training routine.

The Courage To Start: A Guide To Running for Your Life
Amazon Price: $15.00 $3.91 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 28, 2013)


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