Take your run workouts to a new level


Most run workouts are designed with a single purpose and target one specific training zone. Runners begin their training with short, easy runs that condition muscles and other soft tissues, and then gradually increase mileage in small increments to build endurance. The next training progression is generally into workouts that target speed to boost the lactate threshold, or hill workouts to develop strength, or long, slow runs to increase endurance. One type of workout, one single training purpose, and one training zone. Single focused workouts that target specific training zones are definitely the place to begin your training. But, for runners that have established a solid foundation there are some workouts that shake things up a bit!

After runners have established an adequate running base, what happens then? What happens after a base is established? What happens when you hit a training plateau? What happens if you become bored with your routine? What happens when you don't have time for that long run? Combo Workouts to the rescue! These workouts target more than one system and more than one training zone at a time; hence the name, Combination Workouts. They deliver more bang for your buck; a runner's form of multi-tasking.

Combo Workouts combine the aerobic with the anaerobic, speed with endurance, strength with aerobic zone, or speed and strength. They are intense, that is their purpose. You will become fitter and stronger, both mentally and physically. And, come race day, you will be better prepared to meet the specific demands of racing because you can tax more than one system at a time. Go out a little too fast at the start? That's ok, because your body knows how to recover at race pace through Combo Workouts.

Combo Workouts are extreme, so proceed with caution. Incorporate one Combo Workout into your running routine once every two or three weeks at first and gradually increase this to once a week. Be sure you allow your body adequate recovery time after one of these workouts by following up a Combo Workout with a day of easy running, cross-training, or a day off.

Here are two of my favorite Combination Workouts:

Warm up: Always warm up before these workouts with 20 to 30 minutes of easy running.

Tempo Combo Workout:
Run 1 mile at your goal race pace (marathon, half-marathon, or 10k) on the road, on the track, or on a treadmill
Then, run one 400 at 5k pace or faster
Recover for 3 to 4 minutes, walk, drink water
REPEAT this sequence 1 to 3 more times as appropriate for fitness level

Hill Combo Workout:
Run 1 mile of hills on the road or program in ‘Hills’ on a treadmill
Then, run one 800 (.5 miles) at 10k pace or faster, on the road, on a track, or on a treadmill
Recover for 3 to 4 minutes, walk, drink water
REPEAT this sequence 1 to 3 more times as appropriate for fitness level

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