Do you complete the same running workouts week after week, year after year? Have your race results plateaued? When you consider the many different types of workouts, paces and how all of the pieces in your training program fit together, you practically need a Ph.D. to understand it all. But don't worry. A few tweaks to your running workouts will make you run stronger and better than ever before. The following tools show you how.
Tempo workouts increase your ability to hold a hard pace by targeting your lactate threshold, an important physiological marker that represents your fastest sustainable aerobic pace.
Good: 3-mile run over rolling terrain with many changes in pace
If you're a beginner, this is a good workout to get you used to more varied paces.
Better: 4 to 5 x 1 mile on flat terrain at tempo pace with 1-minute rest
For intermediate to advanced runners, this workout will improve your ability to hold a hard pace. The rest periods of the interval-style format offer a physical and psychological break.
Great: 4 to 5 continuous miles at tempo pace
Tempo pace is 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K race pace for recreational runners and 25 to 30 seconds per mile slower than 5K race pace for highly-trained runners. Subjectively, these runs should feel comfortably hard.
Interval workouts alternate high-intensity efforts with low-intensity recovery periods. They target your cardiovascular system by increasing the volume of oxygen-rich blood your heart pumps with each beat, delivering more oxygen to your muscles. Of all the training methods, interval workouts are the most potent for improving your fitness.