The Importance of Varying Workouts: Adding Spice to Your Running Life

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Adding Spice to Your Running Life

Have you ever hit a place in your running where your program feels a bit stale…even boring? This is a common problem for many runners, and while it’s more than just an issue of “boredom” it can affect your progress and stamina as a runner.Doing the same runs week in and week out can eventually leave you feeling less challenged and maybe even bored with the routine. But, that’s actually not the worst of it. If you get into a rut with your running you’ll plateau in your conditioning level and not develop further as a runner.

Think of it this way. Every time you go out to run, you exercise a certain set of muscle groups. So, if you always do the same runs, those same muscle groups will always get exercised, but what about all of the muscle groups that don't get exercised? Those need to be worked on as well.

What happens when a friend invites you to go running on her favorite course? What if it's more hilly than your “regular” course, or different in some other way? If it’s too different than what you're used to, you'll notice that you have to work a little harder than usual. That's because you might be using muscles that don't normally get exercised.

Varying your workouts is the equivalent to eating different foods for every meal. Just as your body craves nourishment from many different food groups, all the muscles in your body need to be “fed” with exercise. If you always do the same run there will be many parts of your body that will become “starved” for conditioning. Therefore, I suggest that you try to provide your body with runs that require it to use different muscle groups.

Here are a few different types of runs to add to your weekly mix:

  • Hilly run (helps you to work your upper body)
  • Trail run (works your ankles and lateral muscles)
  • Tempo run (Start slower and finish faster…makes for a great cardio workout!)
  • Intervals (helps develop your leg speed, upper body, and cardio fitness)
  • Long run (LSD: Long Slow Distance builds aerobic capacity)
  • Fun run (Enjoy yourself…you deserve it)
  • Group runs (build your social skills)
  • Form run (Always a great time to work on improving your bio-mechanics)

If you maintain a 4-5 day running schedule, every run should be different. One basic rule to follow is to not schedule back-to-back difficult runs. Your body will do much better if you alternate easy and hard runs. Hard runs are for building your strength and cardiovascular conditioning, while easy runs are for recovering, both mentally and physically, and for building aerobic capacity.

Add a little “spice” to your running diet and it will work wonders on your running appetite. You might even find that you discover new favorite workouts. You'll have more to talk about to your friends. Your body will be better conditioned. And, boredom will never be an issue…at least while you're running.

Posted in Beginners

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