Day 10: Brutally Strong Hips

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We’ve talked a lot about the importance of strong hips and glutes. But it never hurts to hear it again…

Let’s review the November 4, 2016 post for those who haven’t heard this stuff yet, and for those who need a reminder…

When it comes to running strong, efficiently, and injury free, it’s all in the hips and butt!

Our hips and glutes work together to provide postural stability when we’re walking, standing and running. Our glutes stabilize and align the hip, decelerate our swinging leg while running, and provide power in our footstrike and push-off.

When we are pounding pavement (or any other kind of terrain), our pelvic floor, quads, hamstrings, knees, calves, and feet are constantly under fire. Without strong hips and glutes, those essential lower extremities might just blow!

The problem is that runners often have weak hips and glutes, leading to discomfort, inefficiency and—worst of all—injury.

According to the TrailRunnermag.com article 4 Hip-Strengthening Exercises to Help You Run Strong, “Trunk muscles—including your hips and glutes—are arguably the most important part of your running anatomy. Pay attention to them to prevent injury and stay strong.”

Weakness in your glutes is related to a lack of “recruitment,” explains Toni Dauwalter, a Physical Therapist at Accelerated Sports Therapy and Fitness in Minneapolis. “Two big reasons for [glute weakness are] our sitting lifestyle and a history of back pain and injury,” she says. “There isn’t much need for core recruitment in the sitting position, especially the frequently adopted work position of forward head and shoulders and rounded spine.”

When do you do your strength work? We’ve talked about this before too and ideally, the best time to do your strength training is right before you run. Doing these basic exercises just before heading out for a run will not only allow you to warm up a bit, but they will also remind you of which muscles you should be engaging while running and you’ll be more inclined to practice things like firing up through your glutes and maintaining good form.

Ready to fire those glutes and keep building strong hips? Let’s get to work Crew!

Day 10 exercises: 3 sets of 10

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Donkey Kick + Fire Hydrant (3 sets of 10 for both legs)
  • Butt Lift Bridge
  • Clams (3 sets of 10 for both legs)
  • Plank – :60 (Your choice)

Bonus: Modern Mom’s Hip Strength! – Why not? Throw in the workout for a great 8 minute burn!

Challenges:

  • Burpees – 30
  • Push Ups Beginner – 8
  • Push Ups Advanced – 36
  • Squats – Rest

Speed WorkPick up on pickups – “Speed Play” 

Speed play is the simplest form of speed work. “We simply introduce pickups during a run,” says Bob Glover, who supervises training programs for the New York Road Runners Club.

Pickups are segments of faster-paced running injected into an existing run.

In this first step, runners on a favorite 3-mile course begin choosing landmarks and running to them at a quicker-than-normal pace.

“It might be the next street light, it might be the top of a hill,” says Glover. “We tell them to do six or eight of these during the run.”

Same loop, same scenery, just the occasional decision to run slightly faster for a while.

“This takes away the stress of going to a track,” says Glover, “because in the minds of many of these people, you don’t go to the track unless you’re good.”

FARTLEKS!!! Go out and choose small portions of your run to pick up speed. Have fun with it!


Weak or strong? What will you choose today?

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Day 6: Ridiculously Amazing Friday!

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-8-34-08-pmYAYYYY…it’s Friday!!

I’m so excited for a ridiculously amazing Friday and a fantastically fun Saturday at Run Disney for the Disney Half Marathon in Orlando, Florida!

But before we get to the ridiculously amazing stuff…we have to get the work out of the way…..AB DAY!!

Our abs (our core!) holds everything together. Runners and…well everyone…get HUGE benefits from a strong center of gravity. But runners especially, because a a strong core helps us achieve stability, balance, posture and overall control.

We know the importance of core strength right? Here’s a quick review…

Overall, core strength training reinforces the way that your pelvis, abs, hips, and lower back work together. When our foot hits the ground, our core holds our trunk rock-solid as the kinetic energy from our foot transmits to our hamstrings, up to our arm and back down to our other foot. A conditioned core prevents any wiggling in your torso and keeps you from deflecting energy, so you run faster. All this stability, balance, posture, and control also keeps our lower extremities from getting out of whack, therefore preventing injuries!

It’s Friday…a ridiculously amazing Friday…last day of strength work for the first week of the new year. Push hard today and get it done so you can relax guilt free this weekend!

Day 6 exercises: 2 sets of 10 

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Runners Crunch
  • Oblique Crunches
  • Lying Leg Raise
  • Plank – :60 (Your Choice)

Bonus: Pilates Workouts for Runners – “Swimming” 

Practicing Pilates works well for runners in general, but some exercises stretch and develop some particularly important areas. Watch the video below and do 3 full sets (as described in the video) of the swimming exercise.

Challenges: 

  • Burpees – 30
  • Push Ups Beginner – 6
  • Push Ups Advanced – 25

This weekend I need your good vibes! This will be my first attempt at pacing for a certain time at a race. Yes, I will be the girl holding that flag with the time on it. 2:15 is the goal. I will be using a :90 run and a :30 walk. Run pace is a 9:45(ish) and the plan is to end with a 10:18 average pace. I’m a tad bit nervous just because this is my first time and there will be lots of runners counting on me to get it right. But I know I have your support and I know you will be sending me positive thoughts! Race starts at 5:30am eastern time…so if you’re up (duh we’re runners, we’re all up at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday right?) then send me all those positive thoughts Crew! 🙂


That’s it Crew. No machines…no B.S…just you, your dedication to your health and fitness, and your drive to be better, stronger, and faster in 2017! GETTT ITTT Crew!

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Day 5: Squat City

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Squats are a simple, classic exercise that should be part of every runner’s routine because they build functional strength that carries over to better running.

Squats activate the glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads, calves, and core muscles in a bent-knee position, which builds running-specific power to propel you forward. They also create functional strength through the legs and hips, develop proper range of motion in the ankles, and shore up muscle imbalances to prevent the risk of injury. Strengthening these muscles also guards against injuries like runner’s knee and iliotibial-band syndrome.

No two squats are the same, so as we get farther into the month it’s important to switch things up. A change in stance, load positioning, and technique can dramatically alter the focus of your squats, allowing you to better hammer your glutes, prep your quads for hills, or improve your stability when you need it.

Of course I put this together before I looked at the squat calendar and realized it’s a “rest day.” screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-5-21-04-am

I won’t load you up with extra squats, but I do want us to try out a new version as our bonus exercise today so you’re ready to switch things up once the numbers get higher. Check out the squat variations recommended by the recent Runner’s World article, “6 Squat Variations Every Runner Should Do: To be a better runner, you need squats—and multiple types” below.

Day 5 exercises: 2 sets of 10 

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Squats
  • Side Lunges – 2 sets on both legs
  • Wall Sit – :60 (2X)
  • Plank: :60 – Your Choice

Bonus: Squat of your choice – 2 sets of 10 – Choose from the squats below

Challenges:

  • Burpees – 25
  • Push Ups Beginner – 6
  • Push Ups Advanced – 20
  • Squats – Rest Day

Bonus Squat Options

Single-Leg Squatscreen-shot-2017-01-05-at-5-25-24-amOnce you’ve mastered bodyweight squats, switching to single-leg squats (a.k.a. pistol squats) is a great, gear-free way to increase loads and build max strength for each leg. “Running is nothing more than pushing off one leg at a time while maintaining balance.”

Do it: Stand tall with your feet together, and extend one leg and both arms out in front of you. Slowly, and under control, lower down as far as you can before you feel your form break, body sway, or your working leg “give out.” Pause briefly at your greatest depth and then push through your heel to return to standing. Start with shallow squats, or consider lowering down onto and off a chair. As you get stronger, go deeper. Perform all reps and then repeat on the opposite side. Do three to four sets of six to 10 reps, prioritizing proper form over rep number.

Tip: If you hold a dumbbell or weighted object out in front of you throughout the exercise. It will act as a counterbalance and actually make things easier.


Low-Bar Back Squatscreen-shot-2017-01-05-at-5-27-10-amThis move involves placing the barbell across the upper back, rather than on top of the shoulders, upping the demand placed on the glutes, says Jason Fitzgerald, a 2:39 marathoner, USA Track & Field-certified coach, and founder of Strength Running. That’s huge, as the glutes tend to be underdeveloped in runners, contributing significantly to lower-body injuries.

Do it: Stand facing a racked barbell and grasp it with your hands greater than shoulder-width apart. (Start with just a barbell, perfect the form, and then begin adding weight plates.) Tuck your head under it to place it across your upper back, just above your armpits, and rotate your elbows behind you to form a “shelf” for the bar. Stand up with the bar and take a couple steps back. From here, stand with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart, and slowly hinge at the hips and knees to lower your body as deeply as you can without breaking form, feeling discomfort in your joints, or lifting your heels off of the floor. Pause, then push through your heels to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform three sets of 10 reps.
Tip: Your torso will maintain a slight tilt forward throughout the movement. That’s okay. It will help keep the bar in place and increase glute activation.

Jump Squat to Boxscreen-shot-2017-01-05-at-5-28-45-amAdding an explosive, plyometric element to your squats strengthens your legs’ elastic properties and trains your muscles to generate more force in less time, Hamilton says. Those are major benefits to anyone regularly pounding the pavement.

Do it: Stand tall with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart, facing a short box. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees to lower your body into a squat. As you lower, slowly cock your arms behind you. Once your thighs are just above parallel with the floor, explosively jump up and forward, swinging your arms up overhead. Land as quietly as possible back into the squat position on top of the box. Step down, rest for a few seconds, and repeat. Perform four sets of six reps.

Tip: Work up to these. Any jumping during your workouts is best saved until you’ve already built up a base level of strength. It’s also best to begin with shorter boxes (under 12 inches) and work to taller ones.


Weighted Overhead Squatscreen-shot-2017-01-05-at-5-30-10-am“I love this lift, which is executed just like a regular squat with a bar held above the head, because it’s less about strength and more about mobility, control, and balance—elements of general athleticism that are important for runners who tend to only run.” Fitzgerald says.

How to do it: Stand tall with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with a greater-than-shoulder-width grip above your head. From here, slowly hinge at the hips and knees to lower your body as deeply as you can without breaking form, feeling discomfort in your joints, or lifting your heels off of the floor. Pause, then push through your heels to return to start. Perform three sets of 10 reps.
Tip: Start using a lighter weighted bar before progressing to a barbell. A standard Olympic lifting bar weighs 45 pounds.

Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat:  screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-5-33-01-amAnother single-leg exercise, this one hones balance while also training the gluteus medius to a higher degree than many squat variations. For those commonly plagued by IT band and other knee issues, this is a must.

Do it: Get in a staggered stance with your feet hip-width apart, your back foot elevated behind you on a bench. Lower your torso straight down toward the floor, bending your knees and allowing a slight hinge at the hips. When your front leg is parallel to the floor, pause, then press through your heel to return to start. Perform three sets of 10 reps per side.

Tip: Start by performing this movement as a bodyweight exercise. As you progress, you can hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.


Eccentric Front Squat:

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-5-34-56-am“By holding the barbell across the front, rather than the back, of the shoulders, this is a more quad-dominant squat,” Fitzgerald says. This exercise presents a great opportunity for runners to train their quads eccentrically—or as they lengthen. Doing so will make running downhill feel easier.

Do it: Stand facing a barbell so that it sits on the front of your shoulders, and either grasp the bar with a grip just wider than shoulder-width apart. Choose a grip position that allows you to keep your upper arms parallel to the floor throughout the entire exercise. Stand up with the bar and take a couple steps back. From here, stand with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart, and slowly hinge at the hips and knees to lower your body as deeply as you can without breaking form, feeling discomfort in your joints, or lifting your heels off of the floor. Focus on lowering into each squat as slowly as possible to emphasize the eccentric action of your quads. Pause, then push through your heels to return to start. Perform three sets of 10 reps

Tip: Perform this exercise with just the barbell, and work up to adding weight plates. If the barbell feels too heavy, you can also perform this exercise by holding a dumbbell in each hand just in front of your shoulders. Most people cannot front squat as much weight as they can back squat.


I know I know…it’s a squat rest day…you’ll live…it’s only 2 sets of 20.

It’s almost the weekend so let’s…..

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Day 4: Refuse to Give Up

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-5-57-46-amGood morning! Rough night for me in Florida…it is WAY TOO HOT HERE! UGH!

I refuse to turn on the AC in January but we sleep with the windows open and I gave in and let Silas sleep with me last night. MISTAKE!

He tossed and turned in the heat and made me miserable…but I refused to give in and turn the AC on. Suffered through, overslept a tad, and will require a nap today.

No more giving in to little man sleeping with me…no giving in to the electric company in January, and no giving in on missing my workout!

Anyway…I did end up sleeping a little late so I will  end my rant now and get to the workout. 😉

Day 4 exercises: 2 sets of 10 

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Mountain Climbers (Slow) – use a slow deliberate motion here to engage your core!
  • Standing Oblique Crunch
  • Russian Twists
  • Plank – :60 (Your Choice)

Ab Bonus: 50-100 Crunches 

Bonus Challenges: 

  • Burpees – 20
  • Push Ups Beginner – 5
  • Push Ups Advanced – 15
  • Squats – 60

Speed Work: Loved seeing the speed yesterday! Let’s see some more!

  1. On the Track: “High-intensity track sessions move the muscles through the full range of motion, improving elasticity and enhancing coordination between your nervous system and muscles. With time, you’ll develop a more efficient stride at all your paces.”HIIT It: Begin with two 100-meter accelerations that include 40 meters at top speed, with 2 to 3 minutes of walking or jogging between.

    Build to 6 x 150 meters hard, including 80 meters at top speed, with 3 to 4 minutes jogging or walking rest.

    Over time, increase the number of repeats to 10, lengthen reps to 300 meters (running nearly the entire distance at top speed), or reduce the rest interval to one minute.

  2. On the Hills: Inclines are a great venue for superfast speedwork. Compared with a flat surface, hills reduce the impact on your legs and limit your range of motion, thereby lowering the risk of strains and pulls. Plus, hill repeats build muscle power, which helps you run more efficiently on level ground, says McConkey.

    HIIT It: On an incline, start with three 30-second moderate repeats and walk down the hill for recovery.

    When this becomes comfortable, progress to 4 x 1 minute near all-out efforts with a downhill jog and an additional 30 to 60 seconds jogging or walking rest.

    Over time, add additional reps, extend effort length up to two minutes, and aim for steeper hills.

Speed Workouts for Beginners: When you’re just starting out, any type of interval—even alternating walking with jogging—will challenge your body in new ways.

Incorporate one of the following workouts each week to introduce intensity and boost your speed.

  1. Track: Run two laps. On the straights, accelerate and hold top speed for 20 meters. Walk the curves.
  2. Trail: Intersperse an easy run with 3 to 4 20-second, moderate-intensity surges.
  3. Hills: Do an easy run that incorporates three 20-second climbs, each one at a moderate effort.

Sometimes we have to fight for what we want. Fight for time, fight for energy, fight for the mindset to get it done…

Don’t give in Crew. If you want it…fight for it!

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Day 3: Booty Blast

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It’s for the booty….but runners know it’s also for the hips!

An article in RunnersConnect.com called “How and Why You Should Strengthen Your Hip Abductors” says,

We often hear about how running is “all about the hips”, and how the source of all your running injuries is weakness in the muscles around your hips, but what does that mean?

Which hip muscles are so critical to success as a runner?

Turns out your hip adductor and abductor muscles are a huge part of you being able to stay healthy as a runner, and if they are neglected, you are putting yourself at serious risk of an injury.

In the article Proper Running Form: Does Gravity Help You Run Faster?, we considered the importance of hip extension in running, and noted that in cases of runners with restricted mobility in the front of the hips, we often see a forward drop of the pelvis, highlighted by an increase in the curve of the lower back.

What does that mean? The body succeeds in traveling over the supporting leg, but without making optimum use of the powerful Gluteus maximus(the main muscle of the buttock).

As a result, stride length becomes compromised, propulsion is reduced, overall effectiveness of the running gait cycle is inhibited and risk of injury potentially raised.

The Gluteus Medium, a smaller but equally important member of the glute family – contributes to what is commonly known as the “hip drop”.

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An excerpt from RunnersConnect.com

The Trendelenburg gait is exhibited by a person who through weakness in the abductor muscles, cannot maintain sufficient height of the opposite side of the pelvis to raise the foot and transfer weight to the other leg.

Instead, the pelvis drops downwards, meaning the affected person has to bend their leg more than usual at the knee in order to make up for the lack of lift.

To compensate, the stride on the unaffected side typically becomes shorter, along with a tendency for the person to lurch towards the weakened side in an attempt to maintain a level pelvis.

We’ve talked about this “hip drop” before, noting that almost every runner has some form of weakness in their glutes contributing to this issues. Check out the image below…

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What does this “hip drop” lead to?

Various studies have shown a link between Gluteus medius weakness and athletic injury:

  • In a study by Fredericson et al (2000), 24 distance runners with Iliotibial Band Syndrome had the hip abductor strength of their injured limb compared to that of the non injured limb (and to that of a control group). It was found that on average Gluteus medius strength was 2% less on the injured side.
  • After a six-week rehabilitation period with particular focus on strengthening the Gluteus medius (side-lying hip abduction and pelvic drops), 22 of the 24 injured athletes were pain-free and able to return to running. Furthermore, a six-month follow-up showed no reports of recurrence.
  • Other studies have also linked weaker hip abductors and external rotators to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Ireland et al.,2003; Robinson et al.,2007; Cichanowski et al.,2007).

Yep you got it…tight hips, IT Band pain, knee pain, and so on right down the legs. It’s all connected!

So what do we of about it? Blast that booty and build stronger butt muscles! Let’s do this!

Day 3 exercises: 2 sets of 10

****Click here for how to videos****

  • Donkey Kick + Fire Hydrant
  • Butt Lift Bridge
  • Clams
  • Plank – :60 (Your choice of plank)

Bonus: Side-lying hip abduction – 2 sets of 10 

side-abduction

To work the right hip abductor muscles (as in the photo):

  • Lie down in a left side-lying position. Make sure your hips are “stacked” (right hip directly over the left hip) and that your body is in a straight line.
  • Placing your top hand on the floor in front of you can help ensure that you are not leaning forwards.
  • Your pelvis should be in a neutral position (not hitched or tilted forwards/backwards).

January Challenges:

  1. Burpees – 15
  2. Push Ups Beginner – 4
  3. Push Ups Advanced – 15
  4. Squats – 75

Speed Work Options: “If you want to run faster, you have to run fast!”

Do you have a plan to get your speed work in? You’ve got options so decide when it will happen and go get you some speed!

  1. On the Track: “High-intensity track sessions move the muscles through the full range of motion, improving elasticity and enhancing coordination between your nervous system and muscles. With time, you’ll develop a more efficient stride at all your paces.”

    HIIT It: Begin with two 100-meter accelerations that include 40 meters at top speed, with 2 to 3 minutes of walking or jogging between.

    Build to 6 x 150 meters hard, including 80 meters at top speed, with 3 to 4 minutes jogging or walking rest.

    Over time, increase the number of repeats to 10, lengthen reps to 300 meters (running nearly the entire distance at top speed), or reduce the rest interval to one minute.

  2. On the Hills: Inclines are a great venue for superfast speedwork. Compared with a flat surface, hills reduce the impact on your legs and limit your range of motion, thereby lowering the risk of strains and pulls. Plus, hill repeats build muscle power, which helps you run more efficiently on level ground, says McConkey.

    HIIT It: On an incline, start with three 30-second moderate repeats and walk down the hill for recovery.

    When this becomes comfortable, progress to 4 x 1 minute near all-out efforts with a downhill jog and an additional 30 to 60 seconds jogging or walking rest.

    Over time, add additional reps, extend effort length up to two minutes, and aim for steeper hills.

Speed Workouts for Beginners: When you’re just starting out, any type of interval—even alternating walking with jogging—will challenge your body in new ways.

Incorporate one of the following workouts each week to introduce intensity and boost your speed.

  1. Track: Run two laps. On the straights, accelerate and hold top speed for 20 meters. Walk the curves.
  2. Trail: Intersperse an easy run with 3 to 4 20-second, moderate-intensity surges.
  3. Hills: Do an easy run that incorporates three 20-second climbs, each one at a moderate effort.

What else should we be doing today? Well…Tuesday is always a great day for a No Junk Food Challenge! And I need it…yes I do need to be reminded to eat well. So here’s to a fabulous day of sweating, eating right, and of course….

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Day 2: Set It Off!

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The holidays are over, the sweets and yummy food are all gone…

No more excuses, no more putting it off for tomorrow…

Time to wake up, set your intentions for the week ahead and go for it! Set it off right Crew!

The year ahead is anything you want it to be!

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You didn’t wake up to be mediocre…Let’s GETTTT ITTT!!!

Day 2 exercises: Arms – 2 sets of 10 

****Click here for how to videos****

There’s an extra “challenge” for everyone. Choose Burpees or Push ups…beginner or advanced…make a commitment and just DO IT! No…it won’t be easy…it won’t be all that much fun. But it is worth it and you didn’t wake up today to be mediocre did you?!? NO!

Bonus: One more round!! Have one more round of arms in you? Do it again and feel the burn!

Let’s start this party and SET IT OFF Crew!!


2017 Goals: Still waiting on goals from lots of people…don’t make me call you out. Set a goal, set a deadline, write it down and let’s CRUSH IT!!


Speed Work: You don’t have to run fast in training—unless you want to run faster in races….

Is one of your goals to get faster? Maybe you want to finish a 5K in record time? Or set a new Half Marathon PR? Well….the only way to get faster…is to run faster!

You don’t always have to run faster…in fact 80% of your training runs should be at a slower controlled pace…but if you’re serious about reaching those time goals, you MUST put in some speed! It’s a little scary…even longtime runners get anxious about track day. But once it’s over you will feel amazing!

This week we have options for speed! Read through them and see what fits you and your area best. If it’s difficult to get to a track…or your track is covered in snow…choose an option that you CAN do. See…no excuses! 😉

On the Track: “High-intensity track sessions move the muscles through the full range of motion, improving elasticity and enhancing coordination between your nervous system and muscles. With time, you’ll develop a more efficient stride at all your paces.”

HIIT It: Begin with two 100-meter accelerations that include 40 meters at top speed, with 2 to 3 minutes of walking or jogging between.

Build to 6 x 150 meters hard, including 80 meters at top speed, with 3 to 4 minutes jogging or walking rest.

Over time, increase the number of repeats to 10, lengthen reps to 300 meters (running nearly the entire distance at top speed), or reduce the rest interval to one minute.

On the Hills: Inclines are a great venue for superfast speedwork. Compared with a flat surface, hills reduce the impact on your legs and limit your range of motion, thereby lowering the risk of strains and pulls. Plus, hill repeats build muscle power, which helps you run more efficiently on level ground, says McConkey.

HIIT It: On an incline, start with three 30-second moderate repeats and walk down the hill for recovery.

When this becomes comfortable, progress to 4 x 1 minute near all-out efforts with a downhill jog and an additional 30 to 60 seconds jogging or walking rest.

Over time, add additional reps, extend effort length up to two minutes, and aim for steeper hills.

Speed Workouts for Beginners: When you’re just starting out, any type of interval—even alternating walking with jogging—will challenge your body in new ways.

Incorporate one of the following workouts each week to introduce intensity and boost your speed.

Track: Run two laps. On the straights, accelerate and hold top speed for 20 meters. Walk the curves.

Trail: Intersperse an easy run with 3 to 4 20-second, moderate-intensity surges.

Hills: Do an easy run that incorporates three 20-second climbs, each one at a moderate effort.

As the saying goes, “If you want to run faster, you’ve got to run fast! Go get you some speed Crew! Speed work should be shorter mileage so don’t try to throw it in on your medium or long runs. Nice and short…with some speed is all you need!


I know you’re all super excited….

Hooray Hooray…today is the day! It’s time to get to work Crew!

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