Note from Matt: It’s officially the holiday season, our Christmas tree is up, and today I’m pleased as punch to publish this expanded, updated version of one of our most popular posts ever … which has nothing whatsoever to do with the holidays. (But for some some holiday hijinks that have nothing whatsoever to do with actionable fitness advice, check out our most recent podcast episode.)
In this updated post, author Doug Hay has added an eighth running workout to the original seven, expanded on many of the sample workouts and added several more, and included a “Putting It All Together” section — to help you not just read and nod along, but actually put this stuff into action and build a training plan around it.
With that, here’s Doug!
When did running get so complicated?
I ask myself that all the time, usually when frustrated by a tough workout on my training plan or a confusing training concept.
Running is such a simple act — exactly what drew me to it in the first place — until you complicate it with drills, exercises, and complex workouts.
Of course, it probably comes as no surprise that the workouts on your training plan aren’t there just to piss you off. They’re included to help you run stronger, faster, and for longer distances.
Unfortunately that doesn’t make it any less complicated, so today I’m going to break down eight common running workouts, and share examples of how the work, and show you how to structure a well rounded week of training.
The Importance of Variety
Before we start wading through the details, let’s first talk about variety. More specifically, why variety in your training is so important.
There’s a little running phenomenon I like to call “Single Speed Running,” where a runner logs nearly all of his or her miles at the exact same effort. Day after day. That speed is usually around 75 percent of max effort — not fast enough to really make your body work hard and adapt, but too fast to build much endurance or count as a “recovery” run.
Chances are it does, since that’s exactly what most runners do.
Not only does Single Speed Running keep you from getting stronger; it also significantly increases the risk of injury: our bodies need variety.
We need uber slow runs just as much as we need Lightning Bolt style sprints. The variety works the cardiovascular system and muscles in different ways, and makes room for both strength-building and recovery.
By understanding the importance of each workout, you’re more likely to begin incorporating a variety into your training, and in return, reaping the benefits.
But first, those workouts need to become less daunting and confusing … the goal of this post.
8 Common Running Workouts, Explained (With Examples)
Below you’ll find a description of eight common running workouts for endurance runners. With each explanation, I’ve also included examples of how to put the workout to use.
Let’s start with the easiest: