In honor of National Get Outdoors Day tomorrow (Saturday, June 9th) and a nod to National Running Day (which was on June 5th), here are a few tips to shake up your next outdoor run!
Hills: Hill runs have built-in interval training: even if your pace remains the same, the hills will increase the intensity of your workouts in intervals. Hill running is also great for your legs: running up-hill works mostly your glutes, hamstrings, and calves, and running downhill fatigues your quad muscles more. Bottom line: if you want a booty-boost, add hill runs!
Terrain/Surface: Change up the terrain and add some new running surfaces to your routine. If you normally run on concrete, try running on dirt (packed and loose), track surface, grass, sand, asphalt, and wood flooring. Changing up your running surface regularly will not only give your joints a break, it will also give your brain a workout, too.
Speed Play: Speed play is moderate- intensity interval training and is a fantastic way to improve your running time and speed. Speed play mixes bouts of increased speed and intensity with moderate intensity recovery periods. Using an interval timer or visual landmarks, increase your speed for an interval, then recover at a moderate pace. Speed play is versatile and highly individual: intervals can be as long and as intense as you want or need.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This is amped-up speed play. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) incorporates periods of near-maximal to maximal intensity followed by recovery periods of very low intensity (such as sprinting then walking). As with speed play, use an interval timer or landmarks for HIIT. If you are a beginner to HIIT training, start out small and gradually increase over time. HIIT training ideally should be kept to 2 times per week to avoid over training. An example of a great HIIT routine (and one of my favorites) is on a half-sized track (8 laps = mile): sprint the straight-aways and walk the corners.
Tabata protocols are excellent for advanced HIIT workouts. A Tabata interval protocol involves 20 seconds of maximal intensity work followed by 10 seconds rest. This is repeated 8 times for a 4-minute round, then followed by a 1 minute rest. You can repeat Tabata rounds as desired; typically, 4 Tabata rounds are completed to make a 20-minute workout). If you are new to Tabata workouts, start with 1/2 to 1 round and work your way up as your body adapts.