8 Running Workouts to Build Strength and Endurance

Pronto a correre

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.

Sound familiar?

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:

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The Big Holiday Episode of 2016

Christmas festive homemade decorated sweets

Thanksgiving is now behind us, which can only mean one thing …

Time for another holiday extravaganza! Last year we shared our favorite recipes, gift ideas, and more.

This year, we’re doing something a little different. The episode is a little less structured, but just as much fun.

In this week’s episode Matt and I talk holidays, babies, wine, and what we’d do during the holidays if stranded on a desert island. (Also listen out for a few big announcements in today’s episode.)

Happy holidays!

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The third NMA Black Friday Bundle
  • Do you really like Doug’s Did You Knows?
  • What we’re asking for this Christmas
  • How having a baby will change your life
  • Board games and made for TV Christmas movies

Click the button below to listen now:

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Skip the Gravy: Simple Oil-Free Sauces for a Delicious Plant-Based Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-sauce

According to my husband, Sam, no meal is complete without a sauce. And from what I’ve gotten to know about Matt, Doug, and the rest of the NMA team over the past few years, they’re into sauces too.

So when Matt and I started planning the new No Meat Athlete Cookbook, for which I wrote many of the recipes, we made a point to include several sauce recipes.

A good sauce can turn an ordinary dish into something extraordinary. It can elevate each bite into a flavor-packed delight.

And on Thanksgiving, that’s especially true. Most of the dishes on our extended family’s dinner table are easily modified to be plant-based, but without the gravy, the meal can seem incomplete, and even a little dry.

I usually whip up a standard vegan gravy, but this year I’ve decided to lighten things up a bit and created two new plant-based sauces for our big feast.

They’re both oil-free, nut-free and gluten-free, and they’re less salty than vegan gravy. And don’t tell your kids, but as a bonus I even decided to sneak in a serving of vegetables for flavor and added nutrition.

These two sauces are super simple to make (and are both reheatable), so even if you’re planning a long ride or run before Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll love this quick addition to the meal.

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The Vegan Athlete’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays (And Still Having Fun)

Christmas lights on dark background close upAh, holiday season.

A time for family, friends, and cornucopias. Big meals, red wine, and Home Alone on repeat. Presents, football, and … you get the picture.

The holiday season is a joyful time for most people, but for the plant-based athlete, it can also be full of temptations and anxiety. The healthy eating and fitness habits we work so hard to maintain throughout the year suddenly go down for a long winter’s nap.

Not to mention the stress of having to explain to Uncle Bill where you get your protein. Sheesh Uncle Bill, how many times do I have to tell you? From plants!

Not to worry, No Meat Athlete is here with a complete guide to not only surviving the holiday season, but keeping your healthy habits intact and having fun in the process.

Why Most People Fail During the Holidays

There’s no law of holidays that says we need to overeat, skip runs, or stop being vegan, so why are holidays such a struggle?

Here’s my theory: We give up.

We either (1) feel like we deserve a break or treat and don’t even try, or (2) lose faith in ourselves and fall victim to temptation and peer pressure.

We think it’s all or nothing, and because the holidays are a time when we depart from our typical routines, we give up on ourselves and the work we’ve done throughout the year.

That sounds a little defeatist, I know, so let’s move on to the good news …

There’s a middle ground. A way to keep your habits in tact and still have a good time, and it all comes back to what I like to call, “The Four Fs of Surviving the Holidays.”

No, not that kind of Fs.

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Examine.com’s Kamal Patel on Which Supplements Vegan Athletes Should Consider

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When it comes to nutritional advice and information, there’s a lot of noise on the internet. Read one thing and you may find yourself nodding along, only to be equally convinced when reading a counter argument.

So how do you sort through all that noise?

For starters, you have to get rid of the biases — your bias, the bias of the site, and the bias of the research.

While Examine.com can’t get rid of your own bias, it strives to eliminate the other two, making it one of Matt’s favorite resources for objective information on supplementation and nutrition.

In today’s episode, we chat with Kamal Patel, an editor at Examine.com and nutrition researcher with an MPH and MBA from Johns Hopkins University. He shares his research on which (if any) supplements vegan athletes need, and breaks down many of the most talked about vitamins and minerals.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • How to be unbiased on the internet
  • Do vegans need supplements? Don’t assume anything
  • Looking at minerals, not vitamins
  • Protein supplements and plant-based athletes
  • Creatine and your brain
  • How to sort through the noise of nutritional research

Click the button below to listen now:

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The Real Reasons You Gain Weight While Training for a Marathon (And What You Can Do About It)

blurry picture of runners in a marathon

Most of us equate exercise with some weight loss. Increase the amount of exercise (by committing to something crazy like training for a marathon), and you’re bound to lose weight. Right?

Not necessarily. Even for plant-based athletes.

And maybe more surprisingly, marathon training is probably not the best time to set weight loss goals.

As a dietitian who frequently works with runners, I’ve seen many clients — especially women — put on a few pounds throughout training, and I’ve dealt with signs of it myself while training for anything from a half marathon to ultramarathon.

But why does it happen — and more importantly, what can you do about it?

Well, that depends on your goals …

Important: Now Might Not be the Time to Set Weight Loss Goals

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Matt’s Dad on How Going Plant-Based at Age 63 Has Drastically Improved His Health

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Me and my dad with Dr. Greger at Remedy Food Live Toronto, 2016

Over the years, my dad has made several appearances on No Meat Athlete …

Well, he did. It took a few years and a heart-health scare, but he finally read that book — among many, many other books, talks, and interviews he’s consumed in these first few months of his plant-based journey.

And in just that short time, he has transformed his health.

Motivated by a laundry list of health issues, of which the heart scare was only the most recent, he hasn’t only gone plant-based … he’s been so thorough about eating healthy, micronutrient-rich food that he has motivated me to do better in my own diet. And his dietary changes have been led to the reversal of nearly all of his health issues, including the atrial fibrillation that first motivated the change.

More visibly than all of  that, he has regained the energy levels I remember him having when I was a kid … and now my own kids get to benefit.

All of this is wonderful, and I’m endlessly thankful that he found this lifestyle and that it has worked so well. But it’s hard not to ask:

My dad has watched me and my family do this for almost eight years, with the blog, the book, the podcast … so why did it take so long for him to give this a try?

In this episode of No Meat Athlete Radio, my dad, co-host Doug, and I sit down for an interview to talk about why and how he made the change, and just as importantly, how a typical NMA Radio listener might motivate his or her own parents to give a plant-based diet a try.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • The interview he listened to that sparked the change
  • My dad’s daily routine: what he puts in his smoothie, and much more
  • Small steps, or massive action?
  • How an immersion event in Toronto helped him turn the corner
  • His cardiologist’s reaction to his improvements
  • How a trip to Italy actually brought back his old symptoms (and how they disappeared again when he resumed his healthy diet)
  • Why did it take so long to get here?
  • The books and movies he recommends to interested friends
  • His advice for plant-based adults who can’t seem to reach their parents with this message

Click the button below to listen now:

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Dr. McDougall and the Healthiest Diet on the Planet

Brown rice and Grains crop

Dr. John McDougall is a giant in the plant-based nutrition community, but his approach is surprisingly different from that of many of his colleagues.

Instead of focusing on micronutrient-rich whole foods, he looks to the humble starch as the key to a healthy diet. As Dr. McDougall says in our interview,

“All large, successful populations of civilized people have obtained the bulk of their calories from starch.”

For that reason, according to McDougall, it’s not leafy greens or fruits that should make up most of our meal, but potatoes, rice, and other starches.

In today’s episode, we chat with Dr. McDougall about his approach to nutrition, his new book, The Healthiest Diet on the Planet, and how in his opinion, the Paleo Diet got it wrong.

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • What percentage of our calories should come form starch?
  • Why Dr. McDougall says eating micronutrient-rich food is akin to taking supplements
  • … and why (aside from B12) he doesn’t like supplements
  • Is the Paleo Diet sexist?
  • How athletes should adapt his diet

Click the button below to listen now:

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