There’s something special about being so excited to go running that you count the minutes until you can leave work, lace up, and hit the pavement. But no matter how much you’re in love with running, it takes a little effort to keep the relationship fresh. “If you want to make progress and still keep it fun, variety is going to be crucial,” says Jason Fitzgerald, an elite marathoner, running coach, and founder of StrengthRunning.com.
Before a favorite neighborhood route starts to feel ho-hum, mix in one of these 18 runs to keep things fun and challenging. Each one can be modified for runners of any fitness and experience levels. Many of the workouts require a set distance, but you don’t need access to a track. Websites and apps like MapMyRun and USA Track & Field make it easy to map distance so you can do these workouts anywhere.
18 NEW RUNNING WORKOUTS
1. Get Stuck on Repeat Running a set of repeats interspersed with intervals for recovery is a simple way to mix things up. Choose a distance or time period (200 meters or 45 seconds, for example) and run hard. Rest for a set period of time and do it all again (and again). (Spoiler alert: The recovery interval is just as important as the repeat!) The Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale is an intuitive way to loosely measure your effort, no heart rate monitor or other gadgetry required.
For most workouts, repeats should feel like a "7" to "9" on an RPE scale, (ie. a rough approximation of "intensity") and recovery intervals can either be full rest, walking, or light jogging. Start the next repeat when you’ve caught your breath enough to talk comfortably. The longer or harder the repeat, the more recovery you’ll need.
2. Climb a Ladder
Ladders add a different challenge to the traditional interval workout with repeats that grow increasingly more challenging (in distance or intensity) as the workout progresses. For example, you might run 200m, rest, run 400m, rest, run 600m, rest, and so on. This kind of workout is good practice for managing exertion throughout a workout — going hard while leaving something in the tank to finish strong. Check out a couple of sample ladder workouts for both beginning and advanced runners.
3. Step Up
Find stairs or a stadium that’s open to the public and run them again and again. As with hills, the walk down is your recovery. Increase the challenge by taking a few at a time. Shadowboxing optional.
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