“While every goal may be unique, each has one thing in common – there’s a way to achieve it”

I’ve blogged about running plenty of times. The basics of running, motivational tips, how to prevent chafing, good stuff like that. But I think it’s time for some real advice you can take to the gym or the pavement!

Whether you’re looking to go for your first run, get faster or set a new PR in your next race, there’s a strategy that will work best for each. In my experience, the following are some great workouts you can try that will help you achieve your running goal.

My first big race - Fargo Marathon 2009

My first big race – Fargo Marathon 2009

Goal: Get Started Running
Workout: Lower Leg and Jogging Circuit

Not only is it important to get comfortable with running itself and build endurance, it’s crucial to get used to being on your legs an extended amount of time. Lower body and core strength provide the final ingredient to building a solid starting base.

Walk 4 minutes, jog 1

Single Lunges (5 on each side)
15 Standard Crunches
Single Lunges (5 on each side)
15 Standard Crunches

Walk 4 minutes, jog 1

Standard Squats (5)
Medicine Ball Twist (10)
*With a partner, stand back-to-back and pass the medicine ball to each other
*Without a partner, sit on a mat, lean back and plant feet with knees bent. Hold a medicine ball at your waist, then twist side to side
Standard Squats (5)
Medicine Ball Twist (10)

Walk 4 minutes, jog 1

Standard Deadlifts (5)
Punch Sit-Ups (10)
*With a partner, face each other. Toss a medicine ball back and forth; when the ball is caught, lay back into a crunch, then sit up and toss it back.
*Without a partner, lie down in crunch position, legs slightly apart. When you come up to do a sit-up, do a 1-2 punch with both arms, between knees.
Standard Deadlifts (5)
Punch Sit-Ups (10)

Walk 4 minutes, jog 1

When I started working on speed, I won my first award

When I started working on speed, I won my first award

Goal: Improve Running Speed
Workout: Interval Run

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – intervals are the absolute best way to start getting faster. Begin with basic intervals, gradually increasing both your comfort speed, as well as interval speed and length. You can also try what I call “stair interval” runs (let me know if you’d like to learn more about those, or I’ll write an upcoming blog that includes an explanation and sample workout).

Warm Up
1 mile at comfort pace

1 minute at speed .5 MPH faster
2 minutes back to comfort pace
Repeat for at least 1 mile

Wind Down
2 minutes – 1 mile at comfort pace

Cool Down
3-5 minutes of walking

I worked hard to run my first sub 4-hour marathon 3 years ago

I worked hard to run my first sub 4-hour marathon 2 years ago – and I’m clearly happy about it

Goal: PR In Your Next Race
Workout: Tempo Run

Practice, practice, practice. If you want to run a sub-45 minute 10k, you’ve gotta practice doing it. The best way to get the feel for maintaining a faster pace over the long haul is to practice with tempo runs.

A tempo run is aiming for one that’s done at a pace slightly above your “comfort” pace, yet not too hard. Depending on your goal time, your tempo run should put you in the ballpark of the pace you’d need to achieve that goal. On race day, that hard training combined with adrenaline will get you to the goal. To get started, try a tempo run that’s about half the mileage of your race. Gradually increase your mileage until you’re right at or close to your race mileage.
If one of these goals is applicable to you, give the workout a try for a couple weeks. Let me know how it goes! Keep in mind, these workouts are the basic starting point and you’ll need to push and progress based on your abilities and fitness level. For example:

First timers: Add weights to your lunges, squats and deadlifts, and add minutes to your jogs until you work up to a mile and beyond.
Speed demons: As your intervals get faster and longer, be sure your “comfort” pace gets slightly faster too. You can also try adding a tempo run each week.
Racers: Keep extending the length of your tempo runs, then push your pace. Also, work in some interval runs to really amp up things.

If you have other suggestions or tips for achieving running goals, please comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.

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