3 multi-zone efforts to get you race-ready
Most workouts focus on one training zone — endurance, stamina, speed or sprint. While these workouts make sense physiologically, many of the best coaches also incorporate “combo” workouts into their training. Combo workouts focus on more than one training zone and are often designed to mimic the demands you’ll face in a race. Here are three fun and proven combo workouts to add some spice to your training.
#1: THE LUMBERJACK
#2: TEMPOS AND RACE PACE
Courtesy of Dr. Robert Chapman, founder of Team Indiana Elite
After your warm-up, begin with a 6-mile run at your 15K to half marathon race pace. Then jog for 2 to 3 minutes to a track or marked course and run 2K at your goal 5K pace. According to Coach Chapman, “When athletes can hit the goal time on the 2K portion, we feel confident that they have the aerobic fitness to race successfully. If not, then we extend the aerobic preparation phase a little longer.”
6-mile threshold run
2K at goal 5K pace
#3: FAST, STEADY, BLAST WORKOUT
Courtesy of Peter Rea, coach of ZAP Fitness
After your warm-up, run for 1500m or 1 mile at 10-12 seconds per mile slower than your current 5K fitness. According to Rea, “The goal here is to put ‘junk’ in the legs.”
Rest for 2 to 3 minutes, then run a progression run lasting 35 to 40 minutes. Start the progression run at 1:15 per mile slower than 5K pace, and progress the pace throughout the workout so that the last 5 to 8 minutes are at only 15-20 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Jog for 2 to 3 minutes, then run one or two 300m repeats very fast (mile race pace or faster), taking 2 to 3 minutes jog between repeats. Rea says, “The entire session combines speed-based endurance with anaerobic threshold stimulus and even some anaerobic ‘dessert’ with the fun final few repeats. This session is best executed two and a half to three weeks prior to an important 5K or 10K.”
35- to 40-minute progression run
1-2 x 300m very fast
SINGLE ZONE OR COMBO? VARIETY IS THE KEY
I love single-zone workouts. I feel they help the athlete target that particular training zone, resulting in optimal improvement. But racing isn’t single-zone. As a result, it’s important that you include some combo workouts in your training plan. I’ve listed three workouts from three coaches I admire, but there are infinite possibilities. Get creative. Think about what you need to improve on in your racing. Design workouts to address these needs. Take ownership of your progress and use combo workouts like those described here to toe the line with the training experiences to help you achieve your best performance.
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