A blog by runners. For runners.

5 (unconventional) ways to spice up your runs

5 ways to spice up your runs

A few days ago, I was with my (nearly) 3-year-old daughter, Ada, on the deck. She was munching on apple slices and asking me to tell her about one of her favorite things, the moon. A person realizes how little he knows about the world when a toddler asks him about it.

“Talk about the moon? Okay. The moon is a … err.. big rock that’s… um, way up high in space. It orbits the earth and controls the tides.”
“Can we go visit the moon?”
“Not unless we fly in a spaceship”
“That’s spicy!”
“The apples are spicy?”
“No. Apples aren’t spicy.”
“Then what’s spicy?”
“The moon.”

(Welcome to my world.)

To my daughter, spicy = cool. And she has a point.

It’s late August, and many of you are well into your fall race training plans. And whether you are training for 12 weeks or 20, repetition can dampen the excitement of running that we all share. It’s time for change. And while putting your feet up or cross training may not gel with the PR you’re chasing, there are exercises you can complete post-run to turn up the heat and make your runs … spicy.

  1. Photo finish. Run your easy run with a friend. With a quarter to a tenth of a mile to go, race to the finish. Fast finish solo runs can be great fun. The elbow to elbow camaraderie down the stretch simulates the end of a race. For more incentive, end your run at your local fro-yo shack or watering hole. Loser buys the first round.
  2. Slow motion push-ups. As soon as you finish your run, drop to the ground and do a set of super slow pushups. Aim for four seconds up, hold for two seconds, four seconds down. Counterbalance your faster post-run breathing with slow, deep, controlled breaths; concentrate on the fluidity of your movements. Don’t worry if you can’t do many of these. You are working out your mind as well as your body.
  3. Soft strides. Give these a try even if you’re new to speed work or if your plan strays from speed altogether, i.e. beginning marathon plans. Start and end your run near a park and do a set of four to six 100 meter strides in the grass. The plush footing will feel great after pounding the pavement. And it’s a safe way to reduce injury while getting a dose of speed. Just be wary of roots, foul balls, and rabbit holes.
  4. Encore. While your legs do the brunt of the work on the run, your arms and core are working double time to keep your body in alignment. Like post run pushups, post run core will engage already fatigued muscles, pushing your mind and body to “hang on” when all you want to do is “let go.” Try or modify this workout for a post-run burn.
  5. Field of dreams. Begin and end your run at a baseball field and run the diamond. Slide home if you’re feeling it! End at football field and run for a Hail Mary pass from end zone to end zone. Don’t forget your touchdown dance.

Written by Stephen Marcin.