If you are serious about running training, it means thinking about each and every run you do as an opportunity to improve. For while simply lacing up your shoes and heading out the door will get you into shape when you are first starting out, for anyone who wants to race, or improve their times, proper running training is essential.
As with any form of training, the key is finding the balance that will help you to improve without pushing so hard that you wind up injured. Way too many people get injured and are unable to start a race, or are fatigued when they stand on the start line. Avoiding this means planning your running training so that the tough workouts are balanced out by easier, recovery runs.
The staples of any progressive running program include:
• Hill running: Hill running builds strength – there is simply no substitute for it. You should run hills every week during the off-season, and every other week as the racing season approaches
• Fartlek: Fartlek is a Swedish word that means speed play – Fartlek is a form of speed training that involves mixed distance intervals that are based on the natural environment – sprint to the next tree, or the next lamp post, or to the end of the block
• Speed Training: Speed training hurts, but is the best way to improve your speed and fitness
• Long runs: Whatever distance you intend to race – whether it’s a 5K or a marathon – you need some longer runs to get your body used to the distance
• Resistance work: Targeted strength training can help improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury
• Flexibility work: Promotes good range of motion
• Recovery runs: These are the easy days that your body needs to recover
Incorporating a mix of these different types of training will ensure that you meet your running goals.