Kick Your Workouts Up A Notch!

Inject some hammer intervals into your workouts and reap the physical and mental benefits. Photo: www.shutterstock.com


Try these fun and effective variations on some tried-and-true workouts. 

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse is famous for taking ordinary dishes and mixing in new elements to “kick it up a notch!” Coaches do the same thing, adding fun and excitement to traditional workouts that can help take your racing to the next level. Here are some tried and true workouts from expert coaches with some spicy variations that can lead to enhanced results.

Hammer Intervals

Scott Simmons, coach of the American Distance Project in Colorado Springs, Colo., puts a unique twist on a standard workout of 400-meter repeats. Instead of running a consistent pace during a typical workout of 10 to 20 400-meter repeats with a 200-meter recovery jog after each interval, Simmons adds what he calls “hammers” every few repetitions during the second half of the workout.

For example, a 21-minute 5K runner might aim to average around 1:30 to 1:35 for 400 meters (slightly faster than 5K race pace) during a workout of 12 x 400 meters. However, during every third or fourth repetition in the second half of the workout (reps 6, 8 and 12, for example), Simmons has you “drop the hammer” and run the one-lap repetition around 10 seconds faster than the previous repetitions (i.e., 1:20 to 1:25).

Here’s the kicker: You don’t get any extra recovery after the 400 you just “hammered.” You take the same 200-meter recovery jog as after any other rep, then settle back into your 1:30 to 1:35 target time for the remainder of the workout.

“One problem with traditional repetition workouts that are run at a constant pace is that the recovery between those repetitions allows the athlete to recover to a state very unlike the corresponding point in a race,” Simmons says. “Inserting hammer intervals within your workouts more closely matches the discomfort and fatigue you’ll feel in the later stages of a race.”

As you get closer to your goal races, insert some hammer intervals into a couple of your speed workouts for an added physical and mental challenge.

RELATED: High-Intensity Interval Training

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