Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sneaky Ways to Get More Fitness Gains from Your Workouts

  • There are no shortcuts. To be a good runner and see consistent improvement, you have to put in a lot of hard work.
  • I’m not suggesting performance-enhancing drugs. Duh.
  • These strategies might mean the difference between a PR and an “almost PR” – but they’re the icing on the cake, not the meat of your actual training plan.
If you’re looking for those secret workouts or “top marathon tricks” then there are other websites for that. And you’ll never see the improvement that Strength Runners see – like Mark or Terry.
But for those who want to squeeze out every ounce of fitness from their bodies, there are certain ways to maximize training adaptations. Today, we’ll look at 5 specific strategies that you can start implementing this week.
These tips are excerpts from my Kindle book 101 Simple Ways to be a Better Runner, available on Amazon for $2.99. My goal is to give you a small sample of the 100+ pieces of advice in the book so you can make changes to your running for the better.

Learn to Love Negative Splits

Running a negative split simply means running the last half faster than the first. You should negative split most of your distance runs, workouts, and races if you can.
Negative splitting runs during training will increase your confidence to do it during a race – when time really counts. You also get a better aerobic stimulus (as in, more endurance!) when you teach your body to run faster later in a run when you’re already tired.
It’s easiest to do these types of workouts on out-and-back runs where you can time each half exactly. Any workout on the track lends itself well to negative splits since you can monitor each interval time to the second. Have fun with it!

Run Workouts That Have More Than Two Paces

Common workouts among runners include a set of intervals at a predetermined pace like your current 5k or half-marathon pace. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these workouts – in fact, they can be great during the specific phase of your training period.
But including 2-3 different paces in your workout can help you learn to run faster when tired, boost your fitness, and improve your finishing kick. So instead of your next 3 x mile at 10k pace, try the following:
2 x mile at your goal 10k pace with 3 minutes jog recovery, then 2 x 800m at your 5k pace with 2 minutes jog recovery.
This workout has you running at a faster pace at the end with the same overall volume. Hopefully this workout will help you negative split your 10k race!

Run Fasted Once in Awhile

Occasionally run in the morning without breakfast to practice running on low glycogen stores. A moderate effort in this state has been shown in studies to help you burn more fat instead of carbs and make you more efficient with your existing carbohydrate reserves.
This strategy is a bit advanced, so only experiment with it if you’re an experienced runner and training for a longer race like a half-marathon or marathon. A smart fueling strategy can help you achieve your goals in these long races and fasted runs can help.

Don’t Be Afraid to Run in the Heat and Humidity

Those brutal summer runs might be slow, hot, sweaty, and miserable, but they actually help you. See, your body learns to be more efficient when the temperature and humidity are really high. You lose less salt through your sweat and better regulate your body temperature. In fact, high heat training can actually simulate running at altitude.
Of course, I’m not recommending you give yourself heat stroke during 100 degree days in the middle of summer. But with 1-2 moderate runs every week in hot and humid conditions, you’ll improve your body’s metabolic efficiency. Just remember to hydrate!


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