I’ve been running consistently now for over a year, and I’ve improved drastically in that time. My friend and I started running at the same time, and it makes us both excited to see how far we’ve come. Running has changed the way I look at life- I know I can get through pain and that hard things bring improvement. It’s changed the way I feel, it’s changed the way I can help people, and it’s also helped me get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine.
Running is an amazing habit, and I wholeheartedly encourage others, especially teens, to start running. You can explore your neighborhood, hang out with friends, start healthy habits, and release those “happy hormones”. I often don’t feel like running, but I am always thankful for it later.
As many of you know, I started running when I joined my local track team and continued by participating in cross country (XC) in the fall. I received a lot of personal running instruction, and my coaches made workouts for us every day. I’m now running with some friends and family, so it’s up to us to plan the workouts.
If you’re looking to improve your speed, it’s important to change up workouts and targeting weak points, such as hills or distance runs. Below are five workouts developed by my coaches, my family and friends, and workouts from the internet. Don’t be intimidated if this is too much for you (it took me a year to get here!). Just tailor the workouts to fit you, and give everything you’ve got! Before beginning any of these workouts, be sure to warm up with a couple minutes of slow jogging.
1. Interval Ladders – distance/cardio
This workout generally gets my friends and me to about 4 miles (8:30 pace). Our coaches made it for the quarantine, and we usually do it once or twice a week. It has helped us to improve endurance and speed. Be sure to have a stopwatch with you!
Note: “Fast” generally means “race-pace”
1 minute fast, 1 minute walk
2 minutes fast, 1 minute walk
3 minutes fast, 1 minute walk
4 minutes fast, 1 minute walk
5 minutes fast, 1 minute walk
Repeat in descending order (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) with 1 minute walking break between sets.
2. Distance Run– distance/endurance
This is not a specific workout exactly, but it is extremely important for distance runners to regularly train for endurance by running several miles at a steady pace. It might be anywhere from 3 to 10 miles, depending on your experience. Focus on good form, a steady pace, and minimal/no stops.
Suggested for tips on running form: A Running Start
3. Calisthenics– strength/cardio
Our calisthenic workouts are generally made up of bodyweight exercises (pushups, tricep dips etc.) and intense strength training. This workout is perfect for rainy and cold days and can easily be done indoors.
Here are a couple workouts we’ve used for calisthenics:
4. Hill Sprints– strength/cardio
The more you practice hill sprints, the easier they get. XC runners need this in their workouts to be prepared for difficult race courses. We try to do hill sprints once a week, running a mile to the hill and a mile back. The hill is about 50 yards long and has a 30 to 40 degree slope. The hill works well for us, but you might want to find a shorter hill or a hill with a sharper incline- whatever will give you the best workout. Remember to sprint up the hill and let gravity pull you on your way back down.
3x hill sprints, 30 second break between sets- repeat 3x (9 sprints)
6x hill sprints
2x longer hill sprints (start further down the hill if possible)
5. 2 Miles Fast– strength/cardio
When we’re not in a sports season, it’s still important to track our improvement. For this workout, we run one mile (timed), take a couple minutes for recovery, and then run the second mile (timed). It helps to warm up and cool down with half a mile or so.
Stretch after every workout! Stretching helps lessen soreness, prevent shin splints and recover from runs. I’ve been using this stretching routine for a while, and it hits the most tight areas in the legs in a quick, 10 minute session.
Have an amazing run! These workouts were simple, but they have kept me and my friends conditioned and helped us to improve. Comment below if you have any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them!
Have you done any of these workouts? Which one will you try first?
Related: Super Exciting News! (my running story on theReb!)
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