A blog by runners. For runners.

Three ways to improve your training

3-ways-to-improve-your-training

If you’re not following a specific training plan (or even if you are), increasing weekly mileage or changing up pace can seem difficult. It’s tempting to jog the same routes day after day, and that’s exactly how I got stuck in a rut of running mostly flat 4-milers for the last six months. Just as variety is the spice of life, it — too — can mean great things for your exercise routine, especially if it has become routine in the truest meaning of the word.

Running longer distances at least once a week can help develop those slow-twitch muscles and build cardiovascular endurance. Whether or not you want to run a marathon, a long run can see you to faster race times at any distance, simply by getting your body used to more time on your feet. What’s considered long is rather subjective depending on your fitness level and years running, but a good rule of thumb is anything longer than an hour once a week.

Of course, once you get the hang of this weekly staple, there are different types of long runs you can incorporate into your training to gain even more fitness benefits. And if you’re already deep in a training plan, try your best not to skip these key workouts. They’re on the schedule for a reason, and you get what you put in on race day — we all know that much is true!

Varying pace — whether by fartleks, track repeats, or tempo workouts — is, at least for me, one of the more difficult changes I’ve made to my routine. I love feeling confident and strong and full of energy at the end of a run. And the best way to do that is just run easy day in and day out. However, sticking inside the comfort zone means little if any improvement, which may be OK for some runners looking simply to get in activity. But running fast can mean more weight loss, personal records, and a stronger heart.

And the vast majority, we are our own biggest competitors. Seeing at least some seconds fall off those mile times from year to year is motivation to keep at it. If switching up speeds is hard for you, consider trying some 20-minute workouts or even signing up for a shorter, faster race. My new 10K goal has me experimenting with different types of speedwork, which was just the jolt I needed.

Switching up terrain can build strength both mentally and physically. Better yet, it may be as simple as heading up that hill you’ve always avoided in your neighborhood. I am certainly guilty of favoring flat, fast routes. But how many races have a huge hill smack in the middle of them? Even if you’re not racing, how awesome would it be to conquer your own Everest on a weekly basis?

If you live in a flat area, you can always make fake hills on the treadmill or even do repeats of bridges with a high grade. If you live in a hilly area, I imagine you’re a seasoned pro — and good for you! There is certainly an art to running inclines, and it’s worth developing your inner Hillcasso.

If you still find yourself stuck in a rut, try these 6 ways of busting out of it. If all else fails, it might be time to just take a break. And that’s OK, too.

Written by  Ashley Marcin.