Running is often overlooked as an easy exercise.
After all, it doesn’t require much planning like strength training right?
All you have got to do is take some unplanned jogs or runs around your neighborhood, maybe add in some sprints and you’re done.
Although that is what most people think, planning and having targeted workouts can in fact do so much more and steer you towards your eventual fitness goals, be it become fitter, faster or to finish a marathon, etc.
In order to improve your overall performance, you can switch up your running routine and include some running workouts to diversify and make your runs more effective.
Different exercises can actually target different energy systems and therefore improve endurance, power, and speed.
The types of exercises to carry out will also differ for experienced runners, compared to beginners who just started working out.
Read on to find out what are some of the different running exercises you can do to increase your overall fitness!
Most people would have heard of this term before. But what does intervals actually mean?
Intervals refer to exercises that increase in intensity over the duration of the workout.
It is meant to increase stamina and should not be done with maximum effort.
The purpose of intervals is to lessen recovery time while increasing the number of repetitions.
With intervals, it is important to hold onto a consistent pace for the entire workout, and your body will get more conditioned over time.
To maximise the effectiveness of intervals and progress consistently, make sure to keep to good form and posture.
Instead of sticking to jogs or runs only, incorporating one to two interval sessions in a week can help to improve your overall stamina and endurance greatly.
For beginners, you can start by running 50 meters, followed by a slow jog or walk of the same distance. Continue by running 100 meters, and then jog or walk 50 meters back.
Keep on doing this until you reach 250 meters.
For advanced runners, you can spice things up by reaching 250 meters, and then reversing the routine by going back down to 50 meters.
Compared to intervals that train and work on your endurance and overall stamina, hill sprints target your ‘explosiveness’ by working power in the alactic energy system.
Contrary to intervals where you are not meant to expound all your energy, explosive hill sprints are meant for you to go all-out and maximise your energy.
However, make sure not to compromise on your form and posture.
Keeping your body in the right form will maximise the effectiveness of the explosive sprints.
Otherwise, it can actually sabotage your efforts and make them futile.
To carry out explosive hill sprints, sprint for 10-20 seconds at full speed up an incline.
The incline does not have to be steep and can be a gradual one.
As you get better over time, you can push yourself further by trying out a steeper incline, which will increase the difficulty of the sprints.
For beginners, repeat the sprints up the slope three to five times each session, taking a three to five-minute break in between each repetition.
Advanced runners can push themselves by trying out five to six repetitions each time.
Do take note that hill sprints are meant to be tiring and difficult.
Therefore, make sure to only do one to two sessions of sprints per week so as to not push yourself too hard.
Short and long sprints
Another type of sprint runners can incorporate into their routine is short and long sprints.
Compared to the earlier hill sprints which make the runner run up a slope, short and long sprints are carried out on flat ground.
Short sprints which range from 55 to 200 meters can help to improve power and speed, while longer sprints between 200 to 400 meters will help improve endurance.
It is entirely up to the runner to decide which type of sprints to focus on, depending on individual needs and the eventual fitness goals.
For those seeking to take part in long-distance runs like marathons, half-marathons, triathlons, etc, longer sprints will work better.
On the other hand, short sprints are better for those seeking to get a leaner body as this type of sprints do better to burn calories and add muscles, power, and strength.
For beginners, short sprints workouts should involve six to eight reps at 75% effort, covering about 100 meters, with a minute break in between.
Longer sprints should involve three reps of about 300 meters, at 75% effort as well.
Take a longer three minutes break in between the reps.
Advanced runners can do the same as beginners for short sprints, except increasing the number of repetitions and level of effort used.
For longer sprints, advanced runners should do the same as beginners but complete two sets of three sprints each.
Take a five-minute break in between the sets.
Running long distance
The last type of running exercise is more common, although people do not put much thought into it.
Long-distance runs can not only increase stamina, but it also helps to improve aerobic capacity and helps the body to burn more fats.
You should also slowly increase the distance over time, increasing by about 10% each week.
Long runs should take up about 20% of the overall distance that you cover in a week, which is roughly about one session each week.
Long runs should only take about 70% of effort, and you should be able to hold a conversation while running.
It is also important to maintain a steady pace for a long period of time. Beginners can start with a 1.6km run, working out for at least 10 to 15 minutes before slowly increasing the distance.
Advanced runners can start from 8km, slowly progressing each week.
Running is not just about covering mileage, or running for a certain amount of time.
Different types of running exercises can help improve different aspects of fitness such as endurance, power, stamina, and speed.
Remember to try out some of the exercises in your next workout routine!