You may feel like you’ve accomplished many of your runner’s goals already and want to set yourself new challenges. For most of you, they’ll be about improving performance – but maybe you’re not quite sure where to start. We caught up with experienced runner Laura Fountain from Lazy Girl Running, to get some tips and advice from her on how to help you improve your performance. Here’s what she had to say…
I suspect everyone has a favourite workout. I know I do. It’s one that I come back to every few weeks. I know I’ll have to work hard – it’s not top of my list because it’s an easy way to spend the best part of an hour, if that’s what you’re thinking – but I know that when it’s done, I’ll feel a great deal of satisfaction.
Here’s how it works.
I’m a runner. I’ve dabbled in triathlon, done a bit of swimming and regularly potter about on my bike, but I’m a runner through and through. So when it comes to putting in some serious effort, my main focus is getting faster and stronger on two legs.
I’ll run anything from a 5k to an ultra marathon, though most of my time is spent training specifically for a marathon or trying to get my 10k time down. And that’s one of the reasons I love this workout: it works for so many different race goals.
Simple, not easy
It’s simple too (just don’t mistake simple for easy), there’s just a couple of numbers to remember. So here’s the formula:
3 x 1 mile with 400m recovery
There are 3 miles of hard effort in total (so just shy of 5km) broken up by two 400m active recoveries (so jogging slowly).
Bookend this with a warm-up and cooldown and you’ve got yourself 8km (or 5 miles) of running that will make you stronger and faster.
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You can do it wherever you like – on a track, round the park or on a treadmill, and it works for runners of different abilities, training for all sorts of distances.
The only slightly complicated aspect of this is getting your speed right: go too fast and you could get yourself into trouble, too slow and you won’t be getting the full benefit of the session.
You should finish each mile effort feeling you’ve worked hard and glad of the rest, but the 400m recovery should leave you feeling ready to go again.
As a rough guide, I’d suggest doing your mile efforts slower than 5k pace, but faster than half-marathon pace. The exact speed will depend on what distance you’re training for and how much interval training you’ve done in the past. It’s a good idea to speak to a trainer if you’re not sure what speed is right for you.
Stick your headphones in, crank up the music and work hard for a mile, knowing that it’s making you faster and stronger. Use this mile to concentrate on running strong. If you’re on a treadmill, stand tall and look in the mirror to check out your form.
I do this workout once a month, usually at lunchtimes, and it’s the perfect length to allow me to slip out of the office and back with a quick shower after. And, best of all, it leaves me feeling smug for the rest of the afternoon.