Back in grade school, you ran one mile for the President's Challenge Physical Fitness Test to show how aerobically fit you were. As an adult, you're lucky if sprinting on the basketball court or chasing your kids across the lawn doesn't leave you sucking wind. But holding your own during a short run is important as you get older. Regular aerobic exercise reduces your risk of heart disease and helps keep your body fat low.
Test yourself with a 1.5-mile run on a flat road or track. "It's a good predictor for your work capacity, ability to recover quickly, and do more work in general,” says Steve Di Tomaso, C.S.C.S., endurance athlete and strength coach for Envision Fitness in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. (Have you been fueling up all wrong before endurance workouts? Learn what you should eat before a run.)
Compare your time to the average guy in your age group. If you fall short or want to be better than average, add Di Tomaso's running and strength workouts to your routine to increase your gains.
THE AVERAGE GUY’S TIME
(source: The Cooper Institute)
Go Beyond Average
Perform the running plan on a track once a week. It'll enhance your leg turnover and stamina. Then do the two-move strength workout to enhance your overall endurance two times a week on days you’re not running. The explosive moves stimulate the same muscle fibers you need to maintain a strong running pace while not causing the same soreness daily running does, says Di Tomaso.
(Here are 5 best ways to avoid the most-frequent pains, strains, and aches that can come with running.).
On the Track
Week 1-2: Run 200 meters--or half a lap--at your goal pace, and then walk 200 meters. For instance, if you’re trying to break 8 minutes per mile, aim to complete your 200-meter run in 45 to 60 seconds. That’s one round. Do 6 to 8.
Week 3-4: Run 400 meters -- or one lap -- at your goal pace, and then walk 200 meters. Aim to complete your run in under 2 minutes if you’re trying to average 8 minutes per mile. That’s one round. Do 3 to 4.
Week 5-6: Run 800 meters--or two laps--at your goal pace, and then jog for 60 seconds. If you’re trying to average 8 minutes per mile, try to complete the two laps in under 4 minutes. That’s one round. Do 2 to 3.
Struggling with your warm weather runs? Find out how to maintain your pace and finish strong every time with these 5 Tips for Running in the Heat.
In the Gym
Perform following moves, resting 60 seconds between each one. Do two rounds twice a week. As you become stronger and fitter over the next 4 to 6 weeks, increase the number of rounds. Your goal: 5 rounds in a row.
Sandbag Clean and Press: Hold a sandbag in front of your thighs. In one powerful movement, brace your core and flip the bag onto your forearms. Squeeze your elbows to your sides as the bag lands in front of your chest. Now, perform a small squat. As you stand up, use the power from your legs to help press the bag overhead. Release the bag back down to your chest, and then flip it forward so it hangs in front of your thighs again. That’s 1 rep. Do as many reps as you can in 60 seconds.
Sled Sprint: Place 45 pounds on a sled. Grip the handles and push the sled 100 feet as fast as you can. As you move forward, maintain a straight line from your head to your ankles. Your power comes from your legs and hips, so drive your feet diagonally into the ground with each time. Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat in the opposite direction.
Want the benefits of an uphill run, indoors? Add this treadmill workout to significantly boost your endurance and running performance.