Building Endurance with Interval Training

We’ve already covered why strength training is essential to improving your overall fitness and performance on the pavement. But if you want to work on increasing speed, you should also incorporate some form of interval training into your workouts. A recent piece for the New York Times actually suggests replacing one of your training day runs with something called 10-20-30 interval training. The idea here is to replicate the benefits of high intensity interval training into a shortened period of time, while still putting your body through the appropriate amount of stress it needs to really grow and get stronger.

To start, begin with a simple warm-up jog. The article suggest three minutes, but if you can go up to a mile if it’s comfortable. Then begin the first circuit: 30 seconds of jogging, 20 seconds of running, and 10 seconds of an all-out sprint. Go as fast as you can, as hard as you can; pick a spot in the distance and get there. Then repeat the circuit five times (5 minutes). Take a two minute rest (slow walk, jog, whatever— but keep moving!), and then complete the circuit again. If you’re an advanced runner, try for it a third time. The goal here is to nail those sprints, so make sure the workout revolves around that particular aspect. In total, the workout should only last about 20 minutes.

You can also incorporate fartlek training into your regimen. Sure, it has a funny name… but it can work wonders on your body and your performance. It’s Swedish for “speed play”, and there are several variations and methods of the technique. But at it’s most basic it remains true to its name. During your run, you experiment with varying speeds and tempos— slower paces followed by large bursts of speed of various degrees. There’s so much written on the fartlek, but I’d suggest starting with the Runner’s World introduction and articles.

from Emmanuel Garcia Cross Country

The Importance of Strength Training

“Practice makes perfect” may be an oft-repeated phrase, but it is sometimes far from wise. You see, if cross-country or any other type of running-centric activity is your sport of choice, conventional wisdom suggests that running often— tempo runs, sprints, and even relaxing jogs—contribute to better run time and endurance. Even though this isn’t entirely untrue, there are still many runners out there who are underestimating the importance that strength training plays in their overall fitness and running performance.

emmanuel-garcia-uvm-kettle-bell-592905_960_720At the core of your performance on the track is your cardiovascular system. In order to get it to peak performance, there’s no question that you need to take it to— and eventually exceed— its set limits. It’s well-established that the best way to see results is to vary your workout schedule and not fall into a routine, lest your body becomes too used to the program at hand. Of course, this explains why we may vary our run durations and tempos, but it also applies to activity outside of running, too. Weightlifting can put healthy stress on our cardiovascular system as well, and by hitting the weights we are increasing our endurance in a relatively fresh way!

When resistance training, decrease the amount of time you rest between sets. Resting is unavoidable, but by cutting back on that time, you are pushing your muscles to new heights and calling on your body to do more work in a shorter period of time. It’s also helpful to lift hard and fast. By resistance training with such high intensity, you are working on increasing your metabolism as well as your stamina.

But all strength training exercises are not created equal. To really get the most out of your session, step away from the complicated machines and embrace the simplicity of the free weights. Doing so forces you to rely purely on your own strength and to watch your form— machines actually assist you in your lifts, and as a result your form can get sloppy in the process. Also, opt for compound lifts like squats and deadlifts, because it engages multiple joints and muscle groups, which really gets your heart rate up.

from Emmanuel Garcia Cross Country