A blog by runners. For runners.

Workouts guaranteed to warm you up

winter-running-excusesMost of the U.S. experienced the “polar vortex” earlier this week – an arctic chill that blasted record low temperatures and wind chills across the nation. I hope if you were affected by this weather that you worked out indoors or took an unplanned rest day because running in extreme cold can be risky.

Still, running in frigid winter temps is just a part of life for the majority of us. Last winter, my husband and I didn’t have a gym membership and I needed to run before my son woke up every day. Which meant I usually ran in 20-something degree Fahrenheit temps (I know that’s not that cold for many of you – I live in the South and can tolerate the heat better than cold). I learned to save easy and steady state runs for “warmer” days, and do workouts that that got my heart rate up quickly on the coldest days.

Next time you’re running out in the cold, try one of these workouts and you’ll warm up fast:

  • High intensity interval training (HIIT): After a mile warm-up, switch to HIIT. Run at your 5k pace for one minute, then back off and recover for one minute with a slower paced run. Repeat the intervals for 15 minutes to start and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes. Cool down with another mile.
  • Repeats. Traditionally, repeats are done on a track. But if you run with a GPS or the WalkJogRun app, you can do repeats anywhere. The goal of repeats is to run the same time for each one. Say you’re doing 5x800m repeats – this means you’re running 5 repeats of 800m (1/2 mile each). Set your goal pace and recover with a 400m jog between each 800m repeat.
  • Progression runs. For a progression run, your pace gets faster over the course of the workout. Progression runs are ideal for runners training for a race because they teach you to run faster at the end of a workout, when your legs are most fatigued. Your goal may be to run each mile 10-15 seconds faster than the previous. I prefer to do progression intervals, though. I run each ¼ mile 10-15 seconds faster than the last 1/4 mile for one mile, and then recover with a jog for a ½ mile (I run 3-4 progression intervals total).
  • Tempo runs. If you’ve ever trained for a half or full marathon, you’re likely familiar with tempo runs – and you probably love to hate them. Tempo runs begin with a warm-up mile, then you run 2-6 miles at a pace that’s 15 seconds faster than your goal race pace, and cool down with another mile. Say your goal half marathon pace is 8:00 minutes / mile. Your tempo pace would be 7:45 minutes /mile. If you were training for a marathon, your goal tempo pace would be slower – and if you were training for a 10-miler, your goal tempo pace would be faster.

An added bonus? Each of these workouts is considered speedwork – so not only will they warm you up, but they’ll make you faster and boost your metabolism to boot. That’s what we call a win-win!

Written by Jen Matz