Sunday, 3 April 2011

40 minute super workouts - No1

With the warmer weather and lighter evenings its a great time to turbo charge your running after months of surviving the cold and dark wrapped up like a Michelin Man. This short series of articles was inspired by a client a couple of weeks ago who wanted to improve his half marathon time. Like many club runners he runs several times a week, does long runs and enjoys racing all within a packed week of other commitments. For many runners this is a familiar situation so how can you really change things up in during the course of a 40 minute run ? I've got three workouts for you in the coming weeks, all of which have been proven so dip in and give them a go.

Workout No 1 - Fast and Moderate
Spend the first 15 minutes of your 40 easing into the run and getting yourself nicely warmed up.

Then you start the faster segments. The idea here is to run for 30 seconds at a speed a bit faster than your 5km racing speed. So if you are a 20min 5k runner (4mins/km) aim to run these segements at say 3.50/km speed. The precise speed is not too important as long as it is faster than you are used to and controlled without being a sprint. As with anything new its better to be cautious and ease into it rather than go hell for leather.

After the effort settle back into normal running speed rather than a slow jog (if you are blowing so hard that you need to jog then you probably went too fast !). Then after 2 minutes do another one. The first time you do this workout aim for 3-4 efforts and then add one per week up to 8. Spend the last 5 minutes of your run at a steady pace before finishing. Mission accomplished !

Why does this workout work ? Well it challenges the body at a number of levels:
1. The big increase in speed also increases the heart rate. By raising and lowering the heart rate multiple times you will get a stimulus to the body to increase left ventricle size. Ultimately that means pumping more blood and running faster.
2. The speed of the 30seconds efforts will produce a raised level of blood lactate without flooding your body. During the recovery segments your muscles will start to clear this lactate and use it as fuel. By the time you do 8x30sec fast / 2mins steady you have a 20min segment with your body working to shift lactate. Over time you will get better at clearing lactate and therefore be able to sustain a faster speed for longer. [As you get better at this workout you can increase the fast segment to 45 seconds or even 1 minute which will raise the lastate levels higher. You need to be careful though - too fast for too long and the muscles tire, the quality of the movement decreases and the risk of injury or overtraining goes up].
3. Running at a faster speed than usual will challenge the muscles and nervous system to work in a different way - you will need a greater range of movement to run faster, you will need to activate more muscle fibres to produce the force required and you will need faster contractions. All good stuff which not only makes you faster but has been shown to improve your running economy at slower speeds as well, and that means faster racing from 10k to the marathon.

So lace them up, give it a go and let me know how you get on.

No comments: