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Run faster with less training

Categories: Running Tips

With Spring races including the Horsetooth Half Marathon and Colorado Marathon just around the corner, now is a good time to focus on improving your speed.  If you are a runner you likely know that the way to a faster race is by incorporating speed or interval training into your workout. Multiple studies have shown interval training improves both performance and cardiovascular health.  Fortunately, we live in an area with a great running community and it is not difficult to find a running partner or group to train with. The Fort Collins Running Club (fortcollinsrunningclub.org) is a great place to meet other runners who share your running goals.  As we all know, speed work or interval training is much easier if there is someone else to train (or suffer) with.   However, many runners find it difficult to incorporate interval training into their program whether it be due to time or simply lack of motivation.  Let’s be honest, interval training is not always fun…even if it will help us run faster. Fortunately, there are more efficient way to that faster time.

The 10-20-30 workout will help you reap the benefits of interval training, but in a less painful, less time consuming manner.  The concept is simple. Jog for 30 seconds, run your normal pace for 20 seconds, and sprint for 10 seconds- then repeat four times.  The researchers who came up with the 10-20-30 workout compared two groups of runners. One group continued their normal running routine while the second group replaced two of their three weekly workouts with the 10-20-30 workout.  The 10-20-30 workout was repeated four times and was followed by a 2 minute recovery jog. This cycle was repeated two more times for a total run time of 16 minutes. At the end of the 8 week training program the runners in the interval group improved their 5K times by an average of 38 seconds. Additionally, most runners also improved their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  The control group had no improvements in these measures. Although the interval group ran at a higher intensity, they actually reduced their mileage by 50%!    

The 10-20-30 workout can be a great training method to improve your race time while running less.  Even if you are not training for a race, you can still use this interval program to change up your routine and improve your cardiovascular health.  If you are just getting started with interval training it is very important to incorporate this program gradually. This program places a higher demand on your muscles, tendons, and joints and those structures need time to adapt.  Doing too much too quickly can set you up for injury. A good place to start is to repeat the 10-20-30 workout 5 times (5 minutes total). As your body adapts to the increased stress you can follow this with an easy 2 minute jog and repeat the cycle.  This can replace your normal run program 1-2 days per week. While this workout may be a little more intense than your typical run routine, it can be much more effective improving both your speed and your overall health and be less time consuming.