Posted in Team Finish Line.
Be Consistent with Workout Variety
By Jimmy Williams, PT, DPT
What the heck does this even mean, “consistent with variety”?
Well, in a nutshell, it means breaking up your typical training routine to challenge your body in ways you typically don’t. Running is a very complicated yet also simple sport. While there are multidirectional forces being placed on the body with every step, you are repeating the same movement with every step 160-180 times per minute for however long you are running for. This is the reason that runners are so prone to overuse running injuries. You’re just doing the same thing over & over again, then when something is hurt, we decide to keep going which can oftentimes increase your pain and setback your healing time frame. This variety can be applied into your own weekly running as well as incorporating other types of working out.
Mixing up your runs is CRUCIAL to not only staying sane as a runner but also to remain a healthy runner. Running the same route is something we are all guilty of doing because it is easy, quick and mindless. However, always running the same route means you’re always doing the same turns, the same elevation change, and running on the same surface. MIX IT UP! Changing up your typical route, even as simple as running it in reverse, is incredibly beneficial in changing your mental awareness of the route, allows your body to change directions you don’t normally go and gives you a whole different perspective of the same route you’ve countless miles on.
Go try a new route! Challenge yourself and go find some hills to attack or get on strava with the new plan my route feature to see what you may be missing out on in your own neighborhood. Try to change up the surfaces as the variety in a soft vs a hard surface will allow your body to recover from the impact (yes for some of us this may mean running on the treadmill or having to drive/take transit to a location). From a safety concern, you shouldn’t be doing the same route at the same time because you never know who is watching with today’s accessibility of viewing others’ runs.
Change up your workouts! If you’re the runner that does 400’s every time that they go to the track or does the same timed intervals once a week during speed work then I once again challenge you to MIX IT UP! Trying different intervals on a track is a great way to build speed & strength that you’ll need for races from the mile to the marathon. You can do any sort of intervals from 100m to two mile intervals (I personally can’t do more or I get dizzy running in that many circles). Same goes with you interval runners or Fartlekers, instead of just doing 1 ON & 1 OFF maybe mix it up and do 5/1 intervals or if training for a longer race, my favorite is 3 x 10 min @ goal race pace with a 3 min easy jog recovery. The opportunities to create variability in your hard workouts are endless, don’t deprive yourself of fitness by doing the same 5 mile run at the same pace & effort for every run in a week.
Runners NOT Running
If you are the runner who does nothing but runs, this last paragraph is for you because you NEED TO MIX IT UP! Overuse injuries are the most common reason why people come see me in the clinic and if you are prone to these or currently dealing with one, there are plenty of ways to continue to maintain or build your aerobic fitness. For instance, instead of 7 straight days of running, perhaps replace an easy run with a bike ride, a swim workout, or some other form of cardio activity. The common theme with these activities is that they are less impact than running but still allow you to get your heart rate up and improve or maintain your aerobic fitness. These are best to do the days after a long run, race or hard workout to allow your heart rate to get into an aerobic zone without putting extra stress on your body from the 2-3x your body weight load that running has with every step. Not to mention that runners typically are the worst at getting into the gym to address their mobility and/or strength deficits so taking a day off from running to improve your weaknesses will have far more productivity for your fitness than the one easy run you don’t do.