Masters runners must work hard to maintain their speed, stride length, flexibility, and strength if they want to stay competitive. Most runners who’ve been training and racing competitively for a number of years know that at some point mainlining the miles like you did in your 20s doesn’t work anymore. You need more recovery after workouts and races, and every mile you put on your body should serve a specific purpose. If you screw up and overdo it, the consequences can be dire. Yep, getting older means you better train smarter, or you’ll find yourself becoming a “J word.” Nobody wants that to happen, so here are a few workouts that are specifically good for masters wanting to maintain their “R-word” or Racer status.
WORKOUT 1: PROGRESSIVE SPEED
15-20 minutes Warm-up + 4 x 15 seconds strides + 1 mile @ Tempo + 400m jog + 8-10 x 200 Progressive Sprint Intervals + 200 jog + 15-20 minutes Cool Down.
Although masters runners benefit from doing fast intervals, we need extra warm-up and to be careful to progress though our workouts. The strides and tempo mile are a great way to ease into the fast running. Do the first repetition of the 200’s 2-3 seconds slower than you plan to average for the workout. Try to make the last two reps 1-2 seconds faster than your average. “Lastest Fastest” should be your motto whenever you hit the track!
WORKOUT 2: HILL CIRCUIT
In Flagstaff, we have a great two-mile loop for this circuit with two hills, one long and runnable, and one short and steep. Although, this workout can be done as long as you have a hill or incline that is at least 200 meters and a flat area of at least 200 meters next to one another. You can do this workout on the treadmill or as a fartlek by time rather than distance. Try to find a soft surface for running the circuit. Parks, golf courses, and trails would be ideal venues.
15-20 minute Warm-up + 4 x 15 seconds Strides + 200m (Sprint) + 200 (jog) + 600m hill @ 4-6 % incline @ 10k Effort + 200 (jog) + 200m slight decline 2-3 % (Sprint) + 200 (jog) + 200m hill 8-12% incline @ mile effort + 200 (jog) + 600m decline @ 4-6 % @ 5k effort + 200m (jog). Repeat circuit. + 15 -20 minutes Cool down.
This workout kicks your butt, yet it’s fun. The varying paces and inclines and declines provide a great opportunity to challenge stamina, speed, and strength. Start with two reps and repeat the workout every other week. Advanced runners can work up to 4-5 repeats of the entire circuit. If you don’t have access to more than one hill, you can do a 200m stride at both the top and the bottom of the hill. Take 200m recovery jog between strides and hill repeats.
WORKOUT 3: MAX OUT
It can be difficult to push yourself to the max in a workout, but as masters runners, we need to do more upper end threshold work. Think about it. If your resting heart rate is 65 and you max heart rate is 170, you have a lot fewer beats in a race before you get into the red zone than when you were 25 and your resting heart rate was 39 and your max was over 200!
15-20 minutes Warm-up + 1 mile @ Tempo + 400 (jog) + 4-6x 400 @ speed intervals w/ 200(jog) + 400 jog + 1 mile @ mile race pace effort or close to max effort + 15-20 minutes Cool-down.
The more you can challenge yourself to push up that threshold ceiling, the longer you’re going to feel comfortable running marathon pace. This workout is sure to leave you huffing and puffing, and undoubtedly make your heart rate monitor go berserk.