This post was originally part of Episode 439 released in July of 2017 and is more or less copy and pasted from that post. The audio, however, is a new take on the topic.
How often do you stop to consider the purpose of each workout that you do?
Every time you head out the door? Every week or two? Never?
Every run on your training plan has a purpose.
So, it would help if you were at least thinking about said purpose on occasion, eh?
Every Run has a Purpose
A well-designed training plan consists of different workouts. And each type of workout has its own purpose for being included in the plan.
So if you’re the kind of runner that thinks that the only time you’re making any progress toward your goals is when you’re running hard, I’ve got news for you.
Those short/easy runs? They are every bit as valuable as those intervals and long tempo runs.
And if I may be so bold, I’d go as far as saying that they are actually MORE important.
How do you like them apples?
The Different Workouts You Should Be Doing
Improving as a runner, no matter what goals you have, requires more than just running.
You need to be blending some easy runs with some hard runs. Some long runs with some short runs.
You know how a varied diet is good for your health? The same is true for your running.
A varied training diet is beneficial for every runner.
I don’t care what race you’re training for or what your goals are, workout variety is important.
The Reasons Behind Your Workouts
What is the purpose of each type of workout in your training plan?
I thought you’d never ask!
Going hard and fast benefits every runner, I don’t care how long or short you are racing.
Yes, even ultramarathoners should be doing speed work on a regular basis.
Speedwork helps to improve your form, strengthen your bones, strengthen muscles/tendons, and help you get faster.
So even if you’re really not worried about getting appreciably faster, you should be doing speed work for the other benefits that it provides.
If you’re asking me, and I understand that you’re not but it’s my post so humor me, this is the hardest kind of workout there is.
When you’re doing a tempo workout, you are trying to get as close to the red line of your fitness as possible, without going too far.
And that’s a fine line to walk.
But it’s necessary.
The benefits of regularly doing tempo runs include being able to maintain higher intensity efforts for longer, improving your body’s ability to clear lactic acid from your system, and strengthening bones/muscles/tendons.
The long-run is pretty straightforward, yes?
Run. For a long time.
But what is the purpose of the long run?
One of the biggest benefits of the long run is that it helps to build your cardio efficiency. Running for a long time at a relatively low-level intensity strengthens your heart, actually encourages your body to create new blood vessels and capillaries to improve circulation, and helps build your mental strength/endurance for race day.
To be clear, it doesn’t matter what distance you tend to race, running long will help you on race day.
Perhaps the most overlooked and underappreciated workout on your training plan is the easy run.
The bulk of your training mileage, like 80% of it, should be done at a pretty easy level of intensity.
Because when you’re running easy, you’re improving your muscle memory without much wear and tear to the body. When it comes to building and maintaining your base level of fitness, it is all about easy running.
Like I said above, your easy runs are probably the most important workouts in your entire training plan.
Know the Purpose Before You Start
Each workout in your plan is there for a reason.
It is your job as a runner to know what the purpose is for each and every run.
Because when you know what you are actually trying to accomplish, you have a better chance of being successful.
How Often Do You Stop to Think About What You’re Trying to Accomplish with Each Run?
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