Today I want to first congratulate the RxRunning & Racing Team for last night’s workout. It was beastly! Which brings me to the workout that I want to share with everyone. I cannot take credit for its creation but I have put my own spins on it with various runners – depending on their strengths and weaknesses. I originally learned it from Owen Anderson Ph.D. who shared it from his extensive reviews of research from around the world. This happens to be one of our foundational workouts for base training or pre-season. It is directly opposed to the old theory of base training consisting of just building lots of slow miles.
We call it speed-strength or running circuit training. It’s a bit of a misnomer to call it “speed” strength because it does not truly develop raw speed. However, it is at “quality” running pace – 5K race pace. The goal is to infuse running repetitions with running-specific or core exercises. The reps should be done at 5K pace (Occasionally these are done faster. Some push to mile pace but this is both uncommon and not necessary unless you are more of a track oriented runner, i.e. miler). No rest is given once the workout begins. You start with the running rep then move directly into your set of exercises then directly back to the running rep and continue until the specified reps are completed. A workout is complete within 35-45 minutes.
The running intervals can start with 100 meters and exercises every 100 meters for beginners. They are best done for 400 meters with occasional infusion of 600s or 800s.
The exercises can be 4-6 exercises that work on a specific runner’s weaknesses or overall development. Among these can be: push-ups, sit-ups or crunches, pull-ups, squats (1-leg or 2-leg), squat thrusts or burpees (jumps at the end), 6-count burpees (full push up in the middle then a jump at end), bench step-ups, medicine ball throws (variety), hops (1-leg or 2-leg), speed ladder drills, bounding, jumps, lunges, plyometrics, stadium stair repeats.
In most cases, you may start with as few as 5 reps of a certain exercise and move up to as many as 15 or 20 in the case of sit-ups. Form is everything and so decrease reps if you cannot do the exercise as required. Otherwise you end up training muscles to do the wrong thing or worse yet you will get injured.
A real critical element to this workout is that there is no rest between exercises (move rapidly from one to the next) nor is there rest before or after those running reps.
This workout of course does not have to be done at a track. It can be done in parks or on trails… it’s a bit tough to do on the streets but I guess it’s possible. [Please note: In Phoenix in July at noon it would be ill-advised to lay down on the pavement to do sit-ups.]
Though longer reps could be used it would not fulfill the intent of the workout. It is a quality workout and in order to positively affect lactate threshold your pace must get just above LT pace in order to do the most good.
On the other hand, this can be great for track runners accustomed to racing the mile or shorter. Pick up the paces and shorten the running rep distance.
What it does for you:
Builds core strength.
Builds running specific strength.
Gets you accustomed to running with great physical fatigue.
Improves lactate threshold.
Improves efficiency running at 5K pace.
Mentally makes you a BEAST!
Great variety to mundane repeats on a track.
Perfect change up for runners plateauing, stale or bored.
Great off-season and pre-season conditioning program to build a base WITHOUT mega miles.
My high school team has named them “Mean Dean’s”. I’ve always said that they are the workout you love to hate. They most definitely are killer tough that yield killer toughness. Every runner I work with can attest to this.
Last night the crew “graduated” from this phase of training (8 weeks – with this workout once a week). Most ran 8×400 with sets of four exercises between each 400 rep. The exercises were push-ups, sit-ups/crunches, squats and a 6-count squat thrust; 10-15 of each. Some of the more conditioned runners completed a series of absolutely killer reps: 800, 400, 400, 400, 800, 400, 400, 400, and two intrepid souls completed this with a final 800. Yes, they kept 5K pace throughout. No, there was no additional rest from exercises-to-run or run-to-exercises.
Oh, and if you do this workout and think you’re tough, it was 102F degrees last night at the track when we started and thankfully it cooled off to about 98F when we were done.