Running bracketology

Since it’s March, everything needs to be turned into a win-or-go-home tournament competition. Running workouts will be no exception.

This bracket helps illustrate that there’s more to running than just a standard, straight-ahead, moderate-pace jog. You can and should be mixing up your workouts to use different muscles and avoid burn-out.

Here’s  some quick definitions of each type of run.

Mile repeats 
Typically done on a track, these 4-lap intervals are typically run at roughly 10K race pace with 1-3 minutes rest between sets. Mile repeats help work on sustaining speed for longer periods of time.

Yasso 800s
Popularized by Bart Yasso of Runner’s World, these 800-meter intervals help you gain speed while thinking about your marathon pace strategy. Runners simply shoot for an 800 time in minutes and seconds based on the hours and minutes of their projected marathon for 3-10 sets. For example, someone with a goal of a 4 hour 15-minute marathon should run 4 minute 15-second 800 repeats. Jog slowly as a recovery for the same time between sets.

Tempo Run
The temp run is an extended run (anywhere from 30-90 minutes, depending on fitness) that is harder than a comfortable, talking pace. The goal is to be sustain an effort just below the anaerobic threshold, or the pace when lactic acid floods your muscles and it feels like you hit the wall. Find that sweet spot and hold it. Allow plenty of recovery time between tempo workouts.

Fartlek
This word still makes me giggle after 15 years of fartlek workouts. Swedish for “speed play,” fartleks insert short 30-90 second pick-ups (not an all-out sprint) during your normal workout. Run, rinse, repeat.

Hills 
Just like it sounds, this workout calls for charging up an incline over and over, usually in a looped circuit. Just make sure you really slow down during a recovery jog so you can use your energy for the hill. The best workout out there for building strength – and helps with speed. (First Round Bye)

Long Slow Distance (LSD)
This is our No. 1 seed because it’s so popular with distance runners. There’s no formula, rest period or anything else to calculate. Just head out on your favorite road, trail or usual route (usually on a weekend) and zone out while running for a long time — at least 60 minutes. The goal is built up longer and longer over time. And contrary to popular belief, you do not need early-era Pink Floyd on your iPod to enjoy LSD. (First Round Bye)

And over time, you may actually come to enjoy purely running up and down hills, speeding around a track or running progressively longer distances.

What’s your favorite? Start with the first rounds and let us know in the comments.

About TheBeerRunner

You may know Tim Cigelske as the Beer Runner, but he is also a coach entering his fifth season training runners for the half and full marathon. In this blog he will chronicle the journey of his first season coaching runners with DetermiNation Milwaukee, a team that raises money for the American Cancer Society while preparing for the Madison Marathon on May 27. For more, check out his Beer Runner blog!
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