Thanks to Michelle for this awesome guest post. Enjoy!
Running for Results, Not Routine
by: Michelle Myers
You get to the gym, and you hop on YOUR treadmill. (You know you run on the same one every time.) You set your iPod to your favorite running playlist, and hit the start button. You warm-up for the recommended time, then you punch the speed up to your usual number, and you run for your normal time. When you're done, you cool down, wipe your sweat, and leave the gym. Successful? Maybe. But maybe not.
If this sounds familiar, you may not be seeing the training results you are aiming for. Once your body does an activity, it puts muscle memory into practice, meaning your body begins to recognize things you do repetitively. In an effort to prove its efficiency, your body even tries to cheat and find an easier way to do it than it did it last time. Guess what? That means, the awesome workout that you started doing two years ago doesn't give you the same calorie expenditure today. You've got to change it up to see results, and you've got to keep your muscles guessing.
Here are just three simple things you can do to bust the rut of your regular running routine:
1. Add an incline. Yeah, that's the other set of arrows next to the speed on the treadmill. Select a new number to try everyday. You may have to adjust your pace, so be patient with yourself. Don't expect yourself to be able to run up a hill as fast as you can take a flat path. Also, don't stay on the steepest hill for an entire run. Especially when you first begin experimenting with incline, stay at a number for a few minutes, and then change it. (And as an added bonus, interval training can really help keep you in your fat burning zone.)
2. Change the type of run you do everyday. Instead of coming to the gym and running for the same amount of time and at the same pace each day, experiment with each of these types of runs. You will find that you can push your body differently everyday, and you will start seeing changes in your body.
* Foundation run - A steady run at a comfortable, moderate aerobic pace
* Strides - 20-second relaxed sprints with 40-second jogging recoveries
* Long run - A long run done at the same pace as your foundation runs
* Hill repetitions - Uphill running intervals done at near maximum intensity with two-minute jogging recoveries
* Fartlek run - Foundation run with scattered 30-second bursts at one-mile race pace (i.e. the fastest pace you could sustain for five to seven minutes)
* Tempo run - Steady run at a threshold pace (i.e. between 10K and half-marathon race pace) sandwiched between a long warm-up and cool-down
* Speed intervals - One-minute running intervals done at speed pace (one-mile race pace) with three-minute active recoveries
* Lactate intervals -- One-to three-minute running intervals done at VO2max pace (i.e. 5K race pace) with jogging recoveries of equal duration
3. Take adequate time to recover between runs. Running is a high impact exercise, so you should treat it like one. Just like you give your muscles a day to recover between weight training, you shouldn't do two maximum intensity runs on back-to-back days. Maybe if you an hour of hill repititions one day, the next day you could do a foundation run on the next day. Even if you are training for a race, there should be between 1-3 days per week that you give your joints a rest from running completely.
4. Get ready to race.. Like most runners, if you've been doing mostly endurance runs indoors on a treadmill during the cold weather months, you may feel unprepared to hit that first 5K in a time that won't make you cry. Replace one day of your regular running routine by trying these different speed drills.
* Boot Camp Hills. Find a steep hill that's at least 50 to 75 meters long, and run hill repeats on it once every two weeks. Alternate running up the hill at close to top speed with "bounding" up the hill more slowly, with an exaggerated vertical motion. Start with six repeats per workout and gradually increase to 10. Between repeats, jog slowly back down to the bottom of the hill.
* Hill Hops. After you've finished the above workout, begin hopping up the hill on one foot for 15 hops, then shift to the other foot for 15 more hops. Walk for a few seconds to recover, and then repeat.
* Running on your Toes. After you have warmed up properly, "sprint" on your toes for 30 meters, taking small, quick steps with high knee action. Jog easily for 15 seconds to recover, and then repeat twice more. When finished, do the rest of your workout.
Jump and Sprint. Do a standing long jump, but at the moment you land, sprint for about 10 yards.
* Laterals: Get in a slightly crouched position with your back straight and your arms out in front of you. Step quickly side to side, bringing the trailing leg next to the leading leg. Stay in the crouch and move 25 yards to one side, then return with the opposite leg leading.
Also, remember - running is a journey. Everyday will be different. Whether you run fast or slow, uphill or downhill, inside or outside, be proud of yourself for the accomplishment of being committed to your goal. Decide. Commit. Succeed. :)
Michelle Myers is a personal trainer and lifestyle and fitness coach in Arlington, Texas. She and her husband, James, operate Myers Cross Training. Become a fan on Facebook to get all sorts of fitness and nutrition tips: http://www.facebook.com/pages/
Myers-Cross-Training/ 343681361053?ref=ts, and check out their website:http://www.myerscrosstraining. com. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.