To continue to improve your running performance and keep it interesting, varying your training is essential. If you do the same thing day in day out, it’s easy for it to become mechanical, resulting in a loss of motivation. Time to mix it up!
To participate in the Suunto Summer Challenge all you need to do is sync your Suunto App with Map My Run, get out training, reach new badge levels and be in to win one of four Suunto 7 GPS smartwatches! Full details here.
Turn up the intensity
If you want to race at a pace faster than you train, you will have to incorporate higher intensity runs into your training. These speed workouts and tempo runs are what I call “gritervals” because you have to call on some internal grit to get through them. They are performed at a much faster pace than your easy runs.
Even when I coach beginner runners, I slowly incorporate speed workouts into their training plan. One reason is that my runners will see their pace improve sooner and the second reason is the sense of accomplishment they get from doing these types of workouts.
If you're new to speed drills, start very gradually. Here's how: to warm up walk briskly for five minutes, then jog at an easy pace for five minutes, then increase your pace to 50% of your maximum capacity for a minute or two, then shift to running more quickly, like around 80% of your max capacity, for 30 seconds (but don't sprint). Repeat this two or three more times and then warm down.
It’s important to incorporate cross training into your training routine as it not only mixes things up, so you are less likely to get bored, but it also helps make you a stronger more balanced athlete.
By cross training, you will be working more muscles than just those running strengthens. Since our most valuable commodity is our time, why not choose two of the most effective cross training exercises, swimming and rowing? They both target all your muscle groups in one shot!
Build mental toughness
Adding high intensity workouts doesn’t just help us physically, but I believe they also indirectly improve our mental endurance. Again, this is because we must dig deeper to get through them compared to our easy runs. We are making the manageably-uncomfortable, comfortable!
This is important because our mental endurance is what we call on in the latter part of our races when the legs may want to quit, but the mind will push on bravely. One great way to build mental toughness is to incorporate hill training repetitions.
Out on your runs, practice being guided by your senses. Once in a while leave your watch and phone at home. Run and really listen to your foot strike, feel your breathing, the wind and elements on your face and body.
Try this presence exercise: touch your index finger to your thumb on each hand in time with your in and out breath. Consciously, look around at what you are experiencing rather than only worrying about time, pace or your heart rate zone.
This is the second article in the Suunto Summer Challenge on Map My Run this July. The challenge is all about creating a workout routine and sticking with it!