10 Best Win­ter Work­outs

Get out there and make the most of the grim weather. It’s only rain, and snow, and so very cold

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

As we near the end of the year, shorter, colder days and the ap­proach of the fes­tive sea­son can com­bine to put pres­sure on your run­ning sched­ule and even sap mo­ti­va­tion. The re­sult is that we gen­er­ally tend to run less dur­ing the last few weeks of the year, be­fore start­ing up again with fresh im­pe­tus in Jan­uary. ‘That’s a shame, be­cause in­vest­ing just a lit­tle time in ex­er­cise can reap big re­wards,’ says run­ning coach Jeff Gal­loway. The work­outs here, aimed at run­ners from be­gin­ners up to ad­vanced and vary­ing in du­ra­tion from 20 min­utes to over an hour, are de­signed to keep your fit­ness tick­ing over when train­ing time is lim­ited. They gen­er­ally in­volve vary­ing bursts of faster run­ning, so you are keep­ing some speed in your legs, even though your over­all weekly train­ing time might be re­duced. ‘These ses­sions will help off­set stress and pro­vide the con­sis­tency that makes it eas­ier to re­sume your reg­u­lar train­ing af­ter the hol­i­days,’ says Gal­loway. Try do­ing them once a week to start next year primed and ready to go. Since you’ll be run­ning in colder con­di­tions, make sure you’re thor­oughly warmed up be­fore a ses­sion, and think ef­fort, rather than pace.


LEVEL IN­TER­ME­DI­ATE / AD­VANCED WHY DO IT Brief pace pick­ups keep speed in your legs with­out over­load­ing you. HOW TO DO IT Warm up for 10 min­utes, then do pick­ups (short intervals at a faster pace): 2 x 90 sec­onds, 4 x 60 sec­onds, 4 x 30 sec­onds, then 4 x 15 sec­onds. Run the 90-sec­ond surges at 10K race pace. With the later pick­ups, go a lit­tle faster un­til you’re run­ning the fi­nal set at mile race pace. Re­cover be­tween each pickup with a jog of the same du­ra­tion. Feel free to ad­just your pace on the go.


LEVEL ALL WHY DO IT Main­tains fit­ness and speed in a 30-minute work­out. Al­ter­nat­ing pe­ri­ods of all-out run­ning with blocks of stand­ing re­cov­ery causes big swings in heat pro­duc­tion in the body – this work­out re­duces that with con­tin­ual shifts be­tween easy, steady and hard run­ning. HOW TO DO IT Af­ter warm­ing up for 10 min­utes, jog for 30 sec­onds, run steadily for 20 sec­onds, then fast for 10 sec­onds. Re­peat the whole 60-sec­ond se­quence five times, then take a two-minute re­cov­ery jog. Re­peat the set three or four times.


LEVEL ALL WHY DO IT Stay fit in the off-sea­son with this fartlek-style count­down. HOW TO DO IT Jog at a steady pace for 20 min­utes, then run pick­ups of five, four, three, two and one minute(s), each fol­lowed by a re­cov­ery jog of the same du­ra­tion. Jog for 20 min­utes at a steady pace to fin­ish the ses­sion. There’s no pres­sure to hit cer­tain times, but spend­ing a to­tal of 15 min­utes at a swift pace midrun will help main­tain your fit­ness dur­ing the colder months, as well as your abil­ity to fo­cus on your speed.


LEVEL AD­VANCED WHY DO IT Cov­ers bases from en­durance to speed in a sin­gle ses­sion, and im­proves ef­fort aware­ness. HOW TO DO IT This work­out is about ef­fort rather than pace, so don’t rely on your GPS. Warm up, then do the fol­low­ing, in or­der: run for 10 min­utes at marathon ef­fort; jog for two min­utes; run for eight min­utes at half-marathon ef­fort; jog for four min­utes; run for six min­utes at 10K ef­fort; jog for six min­utes; run for four min­utes at 5K ef­fort; jog for eight min­utes; run for two min­utes at slightly faster than 5K ef­fort; jog for 10 min­utes to cool down.


LEVEL IN­TER­ME­DI­ATE/ AD­VANCED WHY DO IT This work­out pre­serves your en­durance and strength, and is a good prepa­ra­tion for race-spe­cific train­ing ses­sions. HOW TO DO IT Run most of an eight-to10-mile route at a com­fort­able pace (if you are gasp­ing for air, ease off a lit­tle), but crank up the speed by 45-60 sec­onds per mile with two miles to go (or three, if you think you can main­tain the ef­fort). This is also a good work­out to do af­ter a break fol­low­ing a long train­ing cy­cle.


LEVEL BE­GIN­NER/ IN­TER­ME­DI­ATE WHY DO IT A good ‘bridge’ work­out be­tween win­ter down­time and more struc­tured in­ter­val ses­sions. HOW TO DO IT Af­ter a 10-minute warm-up, run one minute ‘on’ (at a faster pace) and one minute ‘off’ (an easy jog pace) for 20 min­utes. In­crease the speed of the ‘on’ sections so that by the end of the run you’re at 10K race ef­fort. Af­ter two weeks, move up to two min­utes on and two off. Keep adding to the du­ra­tion of the intervals to up the chal­lenge.


LEVEL AD­VANCED WHY DO IT Strengthen your legs and core when the weather is too bad to train out­doors. HOW TO DO IT Warm up for 10 min­utes, then crank up the in­cline on a tread­mill to 15 per cent (or what­ever the ma­chine’s max­i­mum in­cline is). Do one minute at the hard­est pace you can man­age (a fast walk­ing pace may be the most you can han­dle), then re­duce the in­cline to zero and re­cover for one minute. Fol­low with two min­utes at max­i­mum in­cline and two min­utes’ re­cov­ery, work­ing up, minute by minute, to five min­utes of each.


LEVEL BE­GIN­NER WHY DO IT Work­ing short, faster intervals into train­ing boosts new run­ners’ fit­ness and gets you used to vary­ing your pace. HOW TO DO IT Warm up with a 10-minute jog. Pick up the pace for 10 strides (counted on one leg), then run slowly for 10 strides. Run hard again for 20 strides, then re­cover with 20 strides. Keep work­ing up in 10-stride in­cre­ments un­til you hit 100 strides. Add to the chal­lenge by go­ing back down in 10-stride in­cre­ments or by in­creas­ing the pace. Fin­ish with a five-minute jog to cool down.


LEVEL BE­GIN­NER WHY DO IT Main­tain run­ning fit­ness with this short, ef­fi­cient work­out from coach Jeff Gal­loway. HOW TO DO IT On a straight outand-back route, walk for one minute, then al­ter­nate 30 sec­onds’ walk­ing with 30 sec­onds’ run­ning for three min­utes. For the next six min­utes, run/walk us­ing any ra­tio you want. At the 10-minute mark, turn around. For the next nine min­utes, run/walk what­ever ra­tio you’d like, but pick up the pace dur­ing the run por­tion. Cool down for one minute.


LEVEL IN­TER­ME­DI­ATE/ AD­VANCED WHY DO IT Stay ac­quainted with run­ning fast, but in short bursts. This is a good tran­si­tional work­out to pre­pare your body for spring speed­work. HOW TO DO IT Jog for 15 min­utes at a steady pace, then do 8 x 2 min­utes mod­er­ately hard (around 85 per cent ef­fort), with one minute re­cov­ery. Take a five-minute slow jog break, then do 8 x 1 minute hard (90 per cent ef­fort), with two min­utes’ re­cov­ery. Cool down for five min­utes.

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