If you find yourself running more because you don’t have access to a gym, swimming pool or other public facility, do yourself a favor and add in a variety of different running surfaces and workouts to your week.
Over these last few months, I've replaced the extra 30 minutes of cardio I’ve missed in my pool or on my stationary bike with more running. This running pushes me off my normal progression, but adding several types of running workouts and softer surfaces help with the aches and pains that typically follow higher-mileage running weeks (especially if you are not fully accustomed to those higher volumes).
Here are some options for you:
Make each day a different type of running on different surfaces as follows:
Monday – Moderate interval runs mixed with upper body calisthenics. Adding a 200-400 meter run to every set of a PT pyramid (1-10-1=19 sets) is a great way to build mileage to the 2-5 mile range alongside an upper body workout.
Focus these runs as goal pace for your mile timed run goal pace. For instance, if your next goal time is 9 minutes for a 1.5 mile run, that is a 6 minute mile and a 1:30 quarter mile. Try to get as many at that pace as possible if that is your goal. Try to run most of this on grass or dirt.
Tuesday – Mix of steady pace running as a warmup, running hills (or stairs or bleachers) as fast as possible, and intervals on the way back.
Here is how we set this one up: Run 2 miles, then stop at a big hill, stairs or bleachers for 10-15 minutes to run or walk up and down. Then run 2 miles back but make the run a fast/slow interval of 200-400 meters fast and 100 meters slow. Stop and do 20 squats and 10 lunges until you reach that 1-2 mile distance. We run on a paved hill in a neighborhood, but find places to run on gravel or grass versus pavement the entire distance if possible.
Wednesday – This is typically a different type of upper body day with longer runs in between sets in the 800-1600 meter distance zone. Mix in pull-ups, push-ups, overhead presses, and/or dips and plank poses in sub-max effort sets, depending on your level of fitness, but follow each circuit with an 800-1600 meter run. Do this for 3-4 rounds, depending on your abilities. Try to run most of this on grass or dirt.
Thursday – Beach Run Day. Mixing in a beach run with some leg calisthenics is a great leg day if you can find some soft sand. Over the years, I have run on plowed fields, dirt trails and even dried-up riverbeds to get the soft sand effect.
Friday – Usually by now, I need a break from running and do non-impact cardio options with stretching and mobility work. I like to ride a stationary bike for 5 minutes, mixed with 5 minutes of stretching and foam rolling – repeated 5 times. I call this life changing workout day my Mobility Day Off. This is a floating day and will move it around the week when needed.
Saturday – Upper body workout mixed with a trail run day. If you have a dirt or wooded trail in your area, take advantage of it and enjoy a run in the woods or a soft surface running area. The goal is to not necessarily focus on pace, but just steady movement with care and watch your footing to avoid natural obstacles and ankle breakers.
Sunday – Rest day, stretch and add in some mobility.
This is how I have been personally mixing up the runs to create higher volume at varied speeds and impact surfaces to help reduce the common running aches and pains of running. Good luck, look around and get creative with your running to add more variety.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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