Ah, springtime, when we clean out our closets, clear our minds, and spruce up our fitness routines. Since summer is the unnoffical start of peak running season (in preparation for fall marathons), it’s important to set a foundation now to make the most of your races this year. Jeff Gaudette, owner and head coach of RunnersConnect in Boston, says it’s the perfect time to switch things up in your routine if you want to shave time off a race, no matter the distance.
First, warm up faster: do five reps each of a forward lunge, forward lunge with upper-body twist, side lunge, and reverse lunge; then repeat on the other side. This will fire up your quads, core, and glutes while loosening up your hip flexors in about three minutes—five, tops—cutting down on the distance you’ll have to run at an easy pace to get all limber.
Do This: A tempo or threshold run once a week. “These are good for pace training, and they also build endurance,” says Gaudette. Warm up for a mile or so, then run three to four miles at your 5-K pace (or a bit faster than your goal 10-K pace); finish with a mile cooldown. Fill out your week with three or four moderately paced runs.
If you’ve run on a treadmill in your life, you’ll be able to relate to these thoughts every woman has had on the treadmill:
Drop This: Multiple speed-work sessions a week. Limit yourself to one or two fast runs to sidestep injury, says Gaudette. “A runner’s aerobic and anaerobic fitness develops at a faster rate than their tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones. So you can run faster without breathing hard, but your muscles and tendons can’t handle the stress.” Plus, adding in more speed workouts won’t help you reach your goal pace in a month or two; getting faster is gradual, says Gaudette, and it takes about a year to make significant, lasting changes.