Running is without a doubt one of the best full body workouts. It strengthens your muscles, including your legs, core, and–most importantly–the heart. Running can also be one of the most intimidating and challenging workouts. But just like anything, the hardest part is getting started. Running is a great way to relieve stress and increase overall health. There are lots of different ways to make running enjoyable.
Focus on Endurance
Running for endurance is building stamina to run to longer distances or amounts of time. This doesn’t happen overnight though, so it requires some patience. Start with amounts of time rather than distance. If you’re new to running, try running for short amounts of time, even as little as a minute or two and then use walking as active recovery. As time goes on, shorten the recovery and make the running intervals longer. Eventually, you can switch to running for distance.
Change It Up
Just going out for a 30 minute or three mile run sounds great, but your body will eventually become used to it. If you really want to improve your fitness level and become a better runner, you have to change it up. Some running workouts to try include Fartleks, Hills, Distance Repeats, and Tempo Runs.
Fartlek means “speed play” and it can feel like a game. During this type of workout, you alternate between fast running and slow jogging. It doesn’t have to be certain amounts of time. I like to use mailboxes or streetlamps depending on location, meaning run fast to the next mailbox, then slow to the one after that. Not only is a great workout, but it really passes the time quickly.
Hills are pretty self explanatory. Running uphill makes you a stronger runner. Focus on leaning into the hill and taking short, light, quick steps. Don’t worry about your pace going up hill; this is a time to run on effort. Try to run at a consistent pace and then jog or walk back down, and repeat.
Distance repeats can vary depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you’re training for a 5k, ½ mile repeats might be good. Try a warm up mile, ½ mile repeats with .1 of slow jog in between. If you’re working on speed, ¼ mile repeats can be a good max effort training strategy.
Tempo runs are runs that focus on running faster than your goal pace. You should not do this all the time, but it’s a great way to mix up training. If you’re simply running a comfortable pace all the time, you’re not going to get stronger.
Like any workout, recovery is just as important as the workout itself. With running, you are working so many muscles that recovery is vital. Recovery means taking full rest days during the week as well as consistent stretching and even foam rolling. There is no better feeling than running on rested legs. Going too hard too fast can be very discouraging and even lead to injury, so enjoy the time off and then get back to it!
Written by GUADS staff member Patrick with contributions from www.runnersworld.com