Growing up, I never enjoyed running unless it was 100m sprints. I would get cramps, my low back would ache, and it just wasn’t fun. So, unless I was at the track running 100m sprints or playing sports, then you wouldn’t find me running. That was up until a few years ago when I decided I wanted to beat my dad’s 5k record he set when he was my age. So, I started grinding out training runs and pounding the pavement. And what was interesting, is my preference for running changed just like taste buds changed from eating more plants. The more I ran, the more I started to enjoy it. Just like the more plants I ate, the more enjoyable they became too. And this has made me question whether we do things we enjoy, or do we enjoy the things we do? I know, a little bit of a paradigm shift there. But the more I’ve run the past couple of years, the more I enjoy it. And I’m at the point now where I look forward to running every day, not only to improve my speed and endurance, but also for optimal health. So today, I’m going to detail the four training runs I perform for optimal health. And whether you’re training for a 5k race, or improving your endurance for sports, or just running to enhance your overall health, these four runs will do just that. And even if you’re not a runner, you can apply the framework of these four runs to your favorite aerobic activity like cycling, rowing, or swimming. So, let’s get into it!
My 4 Training Runs
Let’s start off with my favorite running session, the speed or interval work. Intervals are multiple cycles of faster than normal running followed by a period of resting or walking. And the goal of this run is really to increase your maximal speed. Just in case your brother asks you to race him in your backyard, this training run has so far ensured a victory. I usually start my intervals with a one-mile warm-up run where I increase my speed every quarter mile and then follow-up that up with a few dynamic warm-up exercises before I get into my intervals. Now with intervals, most people like running a quarter or half mile interval with a minute or two-minute rest. And this is a good protocol depending on your goal, but I love sprinting, so I’ll sprint 100m for the exercise and then walk 100m for my recovery. I’ll do this for eight repetitions totaling four times around the track. I’ll then perform two more sets of this but while sprinting backwards. Afterwards, I’ll finish my run with a slow one-mile cooldown. And the great thing about this is you can alter the interval format to best meet your goals. So, while you may not have a brother that randomly challenges you to 100m races, you might prefer a quarter mile interval for short distance training or a half mile interval for long distance training. It’s entirely up to you but this is what I’ve been doing for a few years now!
After my day of intervals, I’ll usually perform fartleks. Fartleks are multiple cycles of faster than normal running followed by slower than normal running. And the goal of this run is really to increase my endurance at that faster paced period of running. Just in case you’re out for a nice jog and then all of the sudden a dog starts chasing you, this run ensures you have the endurance to not get caught. And while no dog has ever chased me, it has chased and caught my dad a few times so I’m learning from him mistakes. So, with this, I’ll usually run a faster paced quarter mile followed by a slower paced quarter mile. And I’ll repeat this process for about 2.5 miles total. Sometimes with this run I’ll mix it up by running half mile fartleks too instead of the quarter miles but either one of these are great options. And again, you can adjust these runs depending on your goals, but I like my faster-paced portion to be around a 6:00min/mile pace and the slower-paced portion to be around a 7:30min/mile pace.
Next, is a run I never thought I’d enjoy but it’s now become my second favorite run. And that’s the endurance run! This is just a slower, constant paced run where you’re shooting for volume or distance or increasing your total endurance. And the reason I never liked this run previously is I’d always been running it too fast! I’d set a goal to run five to six miles and then I’d be gassed at three or four. Well, the point of an endurance run is not to be gassed, it’s to increase your distance and total endurance. And an effective way to measure this is by maintaining a zone two heart rate. A quick and messy way to determine this is subtracting your age from 180. For me, this comes out to 151. So, the entire run, my goal is to keep my heart rate around 151 beats per minute and when I do this, it feels like I can run forever! It’s crazy. It’s an easy run where I’ll usually go explore and run around new parts of town and the extended time running, allows more mental space to think and clear my mind. But maintaining this slower pace is still hard for me at times because the thought of that dog… or my brother… yea you get the point.
The last run I perform is like a 5k race simulation and this is usually my toughest run. It’s not always fun but it’s a good benchmark to see if I’m improving. So, essentially, I do 3.1miles at a constant fast pace and look to beat my previous race run. Now, I don’t always go 100% for each race run depending on how sore or tired I’m feeling, but I always run it at an uncomfortable pace. My heart rate usually rises to around 165 and right now, I’m finishing it in about 20 minutes.
My Training Cycle
So, those are my four training runs! A lot of these runs are incorporated by athletes at various levels of training for many different sports. And I like them because the variety of runs is fun, and each run is helping me become a more well-rounded athlete. Usually, I run four out of every five or six days. I rest either when I’m too sore or if it’s raining outside. I mean it’s become hard for me to not run when it’s beautiful outside. A few days ago, I ended a 14-day running steak where I was sore and tired, but the sun just kept coming out every day and running has become so fun! And I never thought I’d ever say that. So, I’m not too strict on my routine, I like to run pretty often but I’m also flexible depending on how my body feels. But I do stick to this four run cycle.
Whether you’re a runner, a cycler, or a rower, these four training frameworks can help provide variety into your routine all while increasing your athletic performance. Interval training in case your brother wants to race. Fartleks in case you’re being chased by a wild animal. Endurance runs to clear your mind and explore town. And race runs to benchmark your progress. These four runs are what I’m using to optimize my health. And if you don’t do aerobic training because you don’t like it, maybe ask yourself… do you not like aerobic training, because you don’t do it? Either way, exercise, improve, and have fun doing it!
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Hey, I am Brandon Zerbe
Welcome to myHealthSciences! My goal has always been to increase quality-of-life with healthy habits that are sustainable, efficient, and effective. I do this by covering topics like Fitness, Nutrition, Sleep, Cognition, Finance and Minimalism. You can read more about me here.