Try this workout from Dathan Ritzenhein’s routine to boost your fitness.
It’s a truism among running coaches that no one has all the answers. Many training articles share one particular coaching philosophy with their readers and then supplement the theory with sample schedules for the reader to go mimic on his or her own.
Improving your running, however, is never that simple. There isn’t one cookie-cutter way to improve your aerobic base, fine-tune your speed or set new PRs. The same workout or training program doesn’t work for everyone. This is why some elite runners switch coaches and why coaches are always looking for new ways to train.
Over the following five weeks, we’ll share favorite workouts from some of the nation’s top coaches. If you’re experiencing stagnant race results or just want to try something new in your training, give one — or all — of these workouts a shot. It might just be the change you need to take your running to the next level.
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The coach: Brad Hudson of Hudson Training Systems, Boulder, Colo.
The athlete: Three-time U.S. Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein
When they did it: According to Hudson, Ritzenhein completed this workout several times before he ran a personal best of 8:11.74 for the 2-mile run in 2007.
Why they did it: Hudson says this workout is a fantastic staple that can be used in almost any phase of training because the pace of the repeats can be modified according to fitness. Ritzenhein did this workout the week of his race and used it as a confidence booster. Because of the variability of speeds during the repeats, this workout gets the body used to “changing gears” — something runners have to do during a race in order to adjust to course elevation changes, keep up with rivals if a surge is injected, or execute a final sprint to the finish.
How they did it: Ritzenhein completed two sets of repeats that entailed doing the following in each set: 2 x 1.5-mile progression run with 3 minutes of rest between runs, followed by 8 x 200m with a 100m jog between reps. Hudson had Ritzenhein begin the 1.5-mile repeats at his goal half-marathon pace. After the first 800-meters, Ritzenhein picked up the pace to 10K race pace for 800m, and then finished the final 800 meters at 5K race pace. The 200-meter repeats were run at 3K race pace.
How you can apply the workout: Hudson’s take is that this workout is universally applicable to all middle- and long-distance runners. It’s also a workout you can run early in the season, when your fitness isn’t as refined, or as a confidence-building workout just before your race when you want to make sure you are ready to run your desired pace. The key, he says, is to remember where you are in your training cycle. If it’s early in the season, start slower on the 1.5-mile repeats. Don’t run any faster until you transition to the 200-meter repeats.