In this article, I will go over my favorite running workout. This workout can be performed outdoors (road or track) or indoors on a treadmill. I’m writing this article as I want throw ideas out there that will help mix up your training and also would love to hear from you on your favorite workouts.
I’m roughly 4 months out until I complete my first Spartan Ultra so my running has been mainly focused on building my base and trails (training at high altitude and elevation gain). The workout I’m about to cover is something I will do on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and typically do it outside. The reason why is because I’m not the biggest fan of treadmills and mainly use them for racking easy miles or as a substitute when the weather isn’t complying.
This is an 8 mile workout that is broken up into 3 Sections:
• Warm Up
• Cool Down
Warm Up – 2 Miles:
Before jumping into the run, I always foam roll my entire body (back, hamstrings, quads, adductors, abductors, and calves) and do some dynamic stretching. This is important for me because the foam rolling opens up the muscles and dynamic stretching is a signal to the brain that we’re prepping for some work.
From there, I’ll begin running at my aerobic base pace. This is a pace that I could hold a normal conversation and where I focus on my breathing. During this time, I will inhale and exhale through the nose. If I find it difficult to breathe, that’s my body’s way of telling me that I’m going too fast and need to slow down. I like to use the first mile to shake out any tightness that I may be feeling in my body so that’ll include legs, shoulders, and neck. As a trail running, I don’t focus on my pace but I would like to note that the first mile is always my slowest mile. This is the time where you’re getting in synced from a body and mind perspective.
Once I’ve hit two miles, I like to take a 3-5 minute break to let my heart rate come down and shake out. I’ll do a few bodyweight squats/lunges and stretch out any areas that I felt tightness in the first two miles. I always carry water with me that has a scoop of electrolytes so I’ll take down some fluids (2-3 gulps) during this time as well.
Workout – 4 Miles:
Now that we’ve warmed up, we’re ready to turn the dial up and get to work. The next 4 miles will be broken up into 1/2 mile intervals like so…
Since we covered aerobic pace earlier, I’ll jump right into sprint and if you’re reading this article I think it’s fair to say we all know what a sprint is. We’re covering ground as quick as we can and the breathing is typically inhaling and exhaling through the mouth. If you’re able to inhale through the nose during the sprint but for this type of speed, I’m trying to pull in as much air as I can. One thing I’d like to note here is that once I’ve completed the 1/2 mile sprint, I’m immediately going back to that slow and steady pace (aerobic). Depending on your cardiovascular endurance, it may take you a minute or two to get your heart rate down to where you can nose breathe the whole time. That’s actually one of the biggest benefits of this workout!
When you’re pumping the heart to your max speed, then slowing down, and repeating that, you’re working the heart on it’s recovery time. Doing these types of workouts will help your heart recover faster. One of the biggest misunderstandings I see with HIIT type workouts is that there’s a perception that you need to be redlining (going all out) the entire time. That is simply not the case and you’re most chances not receiving the full benefits of a HIIT workout. The purpose of these repeats (1/2 mile fast and 1/2 mile slow) is to allow the heart to come back to it’s slower pace (aerobic) then drive it back up.
Once the 4 repeats are complete, I’ll take another 3-5 minute break where I’ll stretch out the body and take in fluids. Please note, I try to take a gulp after each repeat so I’ll typically squeeze in 4 gulps during this portion of the workout.
Cool Down – 2 Miles:
Alright, so we’ve got through the toughest part of the session and it’s time to bring it home. The cool down is very important to me as it’s a time to allow the body to come back to it’s normal state while recalibrating my breathing. For these two miles, I go back to my aerobic pace and revert back to inhaling and exhaling through the nose. One of the cool things about the aerobic pace during the cool down is that I’ve noticed my speed (pace) is slightly faster. The reason being is because you’re already warmed up, you’ve ripped some sprints, so you’re body is flowing and you’ve probably already snotted (I believe that’s a word) out a few boogers during this time so the pipes are clear. During this time, I’m typically just enjoying the outdoors, taking in the air, and enjoying the ride.
If you’re reading this article and going “Omar, I can’t run 8 miles, how am I supposed to do this?” that’s totally fair. One recommendation would be to decrease all of the sections by half (1:2:1) and do a 4 mile workout. If that’s too much, reduce it again by half and work your way up. Remember, this is your workout as I’m only providing the framework that can be manipulated as needed.
The purpose of this article is to share ideas when it comes to running. Running has become a way of life for me and I’ll do it until my body doesn’t allow anymore. It teaches me about commitment, optimizing my body, and grit. I hope that you found this article beneficial and if you did, please share with a friend or family member.