Champion Workouts: run faster, feel stronger, avoid injury

I was getting bored of running the same runs at what seemed to be the same speed, over and over again. The only time it seemed I was getting a break from running at a constant pace over a pre-determined distance was during my weekly track sessions. Furthermore, I was getting really bored of repeating the same circuit workouts every week. The time for change was on the horizon!

My situation led me to the wonderful worlds of YouTube and FloTrack. After reading training articles online and in various running and fitness magazines I decided that it might be an idea to make these workouts come to life by watching them in real time as opposed to seeing them in 2D on the screen or on paper.  Below are 22 videos that I have used to improve my running technique, strength, speed and endurance. Not only this, using these videos has also allowed me to break free from the bonds of the monotonous, day-in-day-out, single pace run as well as the monotony of repeating the same circuit workouts week after week. Exploring new workouts really has injected some vim and vigour into my training!

Workouts to make you feel stronger!

Scott Thom – Best Ankle Strengthening Drill

First of all, this video is great! I love the passion that Scott clearly has for working out! All I’ll say before you click ‘Play’ is – “CHEST BUMP”! On a serious note though, strong ankles are very important for a runner! They are nature’s shock absorbers – by looking after them, you’re looking after the rest of your legs too.

Runner Dude – “Pre-Hab” Ankle Strengthening Workout

Runner Dude has lots of workouts available to view, I just thought I’d post a second ankle strengthening workout as Scott Thom’s is a little short and could become a bit repetitive. Runner Dude’s “Pre-Hab” workout is more varied and gives you a few ideas to mix up your strengthening workouts.

Mark Broadbent – Knee Strengthening Exercise

It makes sense that you should strengthen your knees. One of the things non-runners ask me most is how does it feel on your knees after a week’s worth of training or do your knees hurt all the time? The answer, for the most part, is no my knees don’t hurt a lot. Occasionally, as with most runners, I will suffer some discomfort or pain in my knees but incorporating this simple routine into your schedule will reduce these instances!

I can’t embed this video as Beth (Venom, from American Gladiator) has disabled the ability on her YouTube page. However, I highly recommend giving this workout a go and on a regular basis! The stronger your glutes, the more elasticity and power you can gain from your stride!

Sean Vigue – 20 Minute Killer Core Workout

Sean is not a runner but he sure knows how to improve core strength, watch this workout and incorporate it into your schedule once in a while! A strong core will help you to hold your form and posture when running long distances which will reduce pain and fatigue.

Workouts to help you run faster!

Ryan Hall – 12 Mile Tempo run

Ryan Hall is a don when it comes to dedication in training. Here he is running a beautiful 12 mile trail at tempo in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Marathon. I thought it was a great idea to use a friend/cyclist as a pacer and it will be something I will be incorporating into my tempo workouts whenever I can! There’s no hiding from the pace when you have someone riding out front! (It also means you have someone to carry your hydration and energy gels)

This is the video that first started me off on trawling around for workouts to mix it up! The video shows the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks Men’s Cross Country team undertaking Mile Repeats at 7,000ft elevation. You might not be able to mirror the altitude but it’s easy enough to mirror the workout! Mile Repeats have become a staple of my weekly workout and they really do improve both endurance and pacing.

Washington Huskies – 4x1KM with 1x800m recovery in between

This workout is similar to the NAU Mile Repeats above, however, the recovery period and distance is set by the coach at 800m in no more than 2 minutes. This workout is being completed by the Huskie’s Middle Distance track runners which is why the distance is shorter than the NAU repeats. Again, this workout will increase endurance and pacing but will also build up speed over time.

Hansons-Brooks – 4×2 Mile Session

Yes, more repeats! As Ryan Hall has said in his book ‘Running with Joy’, the runner’s lifestyle can be boiled down to three words – “Repeat, repeat, and repeat.” This workout varies from the two previous repeat workouts as the athletes are running at their race pace with six days to go before the event. The distance of the reps (2 miles) will definitely increase your endurance and because you will have to monitor your pace to stay at race level it will increase your understanding of this vital skill. – Fartlek Session (2mins fast/1min slow) in Iten, Kenya

Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning “speed play” and is intended to enhance conditioning and to increase speed and endurance. In this video we see a 50 minute session with participants running fast for 2 minutes with a 1 minute ‘slow’ recovery period for the duration of the session. Fartlek training can also increase explosive power as you change pace from slow to fast during the session.

David Warren – Sprint Drills & Plyometrics

Middle and Long distance running is certainly a far removed from sprinting events. However, it doesn’t hurt to know that should you require it during a race, you have the ability to out kick your opponents in the final 400, 200 or 100m. By using plyometric training and sprint drills you can significantly increase your explosive power over short distances. [Warning: the music in this video contains expletives]

Workouts to improve your technique and to help avoid injury

Lauren Fleshman – Running Drills

This is a great video showing how to use drill sessions in your training. Lauren Fleshman explains the necessity and the benefit of each drill and gives a nice, simple demonstration. Incorporate these drills into your schedule and you’ll really begin to notice positive changes in your running form, posture and flexibility!

Brad Jacobs (Newton Running) – B Kicks/B Steps technique workout

A video from Newton Running’s ‘Running Form Friday’ series – I posted this one as I found that mastering this technique took me quite some time and I used this video to focus on what I needed to do. I recommend taking a look at all the ‘Running Form Friday’ series as they’re really useful for improving your flexibility, and obviously, your form.                                                                                                                                                      

Eric Orton (Born to Run) – Running Technique Drills

A fairly lengthy video giving instruction on how to concentrate on your footfall to improve both cadence and speed whilst also massively reducing the risk of injury from improper foot placement. The video also explains the importance of stabilising your running pattern to maximise power from the glutes.

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella – Principles of Natural Running/Running Economy

This video is great for understanding how to improve your gait, stability and footfall whilst running at maximum speed. Dr. Cucuzzella explains the necessity behind running naturally and how using an economic stride improves overall speed, power and endurance whilst reducing the chance of injury. [Note: this video is filmed barefoot as it is easier to demonstrate the principles outlined in the video. It is not a ‘barefoot’ running promotional trailer]

Sage Canaday – Natural Running Form

Sage Canaday outlines how to obtain a more efficient and economical stride whilst running. As explained in the previous video an efficient, natural and economical stride will greatly improve power output and, amongst other things, reduce the possibility of injury.

Hill Running – how Champions are made!

Pete Magill (Running Times Magazine) – Five Kinds of Hill Workouts

A good explanatory video covering Long Hill Runs, Long Hill Repeats, Short Hill Repeats, Hill Springing & Bounding and Downhill Strides. All of these workouts are going to improve your speed on the flat and teach you how to conserve your energy on the uphill sections of races. Eventually you may even find that hills are the place to pass other runners. It’s my opinion that champions are made on hills – increasing the pace on the incline and then maintaining it at the crest is a surefire way to put some distance between you and your rivals!

Jenny Hadfield – How to Run Hills (Making friends with hills)

I like the way Jenny Hadfield approaches her video coaching sessions, she really enthuses you to get out there and give it a go! In this video she tells us that hills invariably make you stronger – they improve leg, core and upper body strength and can make you an all round more powerful runner. There are some good technique tips on this one. Give it a watch and then get out there and get on those hills!

Steve Magness – 16x350m Hill Repeats with jog back recovery

As you saw in my earlier section around speed training, repetition is the key to success. The same goes for training on hills and learning how to run them properly. In this video we see an intense 16x350m hill repeat session with the runners using the return to the start as a recovery jog. You can mix this up a bit when you find your own training hill(s). For instance, sometimes I’ll use every other downhill jog back as another repeat and aim to run down at a fair pace – this is so I can learn how to cope with running downhill during races.

Team BOSS Baltic – Seemingly endless hill reps in Iten, Kenya

There is no soundtrack and no voice over to this video. All you can hear is the footfall of the runners as they bound up and down a hill in Iten, Kenya. The video is nine minutes long, I haven’t counted how many repeats they do in this time but the dedication of the athletes is clear! They’re running hill repeats early in the morning and at altitude with no let up aside from a short jog back recovery – this is another aspect of hill training that I like, in my opinion it takes a lot of dedication to keep pounding away at a hill over and over and this can only serve to increase your mental strength during races.

In this video we see US mountain runner, Sage Canaday, attacking a 5km long hill run…at tempo! Again, what we’re seeing here is dedication and mental fortitude to complete what is a grueling workout! The physical benefits of this kind of tempo run are a stronger core and stronger legs which will carry over onto the flat – imagine how much easier it will feel to run at tempo on the flat after attacking a long hill run in a similar fashion!

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