Variety, it’s said, is the spice of life. It can also be the key to spicing up some of the same old workouts you do week in and week out. Can’t decide between hill repeats, a tempo run, or an interval session? Try rolling them all into one workout! I call this cover-all-your-bases butt-kicker “The Mixed Bag” and it will help to stimulate fitness gains that you didn’t even realize were stuck in stagnation. Here are the details:
What: Begin the workout with 5 x 30-60” hill repeats at a hard (but not too hard) effort, focusing on running with good, strong form from start to finish. Walk-jog downhill to catch your breath and recover between repeats. After completing the last repeat, jog for 2-3 minutes to get your heart rate down. Next, do a 15-20 minute tempo run on flat to gently rolling terrain at around your half-marathon pace. This effort should be challenging but sustainable, i.e., you should finish feeling like you could still keep going for a while. After finishing the tempo run, jog 5 minutes for recovery. Finally, we’ll complete the workout with 3-5 x 1 minute at your 5K race pace, jogging for an equal amount of time after each repetition for recovery.
Why: This is a great workout to lean on when you’re stuck, bored, or feeling stale with a particular training element. It’s also a great way to combine training stresses and stimulate new adaptations.
Warmup/Cooldown: Warm up before the workout with 15-30 minutes of easy running followed by a set of drills and 4-6 x 20-second strides (i.e., accelerate for 5 seconds, spend the next 10 seconds at near-top speed, and then gradually decelerate to a jog over the final 5 seconds. Catch your breath for 40-60 seconds and then repeat 3-5 more times). Cool down after the workout with 5-15 minutes of easy running.
Where: Ideally you’ll do this one outside where there’s a good mix of hilly and flat or gently rolling terrain. The treadmill is also a good option since you can adjust the settings to suit your needs.
When: There’s really not a bad time to do this workout since it’s so customizable. The possibilities are essentially endless! Altogether this version of “The Mixed Bag” totals 20 to 30 minutes of work with most of it being on the high-end aerobic end of things, while also touching on a little power and speed. That said, you can make substitutions, mess around with the intensity and/or duration of the tempo run and/or intervals, or eliminate an element altogether depending on what you’re trying to get out of it.