Workout of the Week: Running Faster with Sprints, Shuttle Runs and Timed Runs

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Military runner competes during Warrior Games.
Air Force Tech Sgt. Ricardo Rivera finishes a heat during the 2019 DoD Warrior Games in Tampa, Florida. (EJ Hersom/Defense Department photo)

When it comes to running, there are many ways to practice. You can practice long-distance running, speed running, agility running and medium-distance, timed, paced running. Individually, you may be naturally good at any one, but find it takes work to get good at other methods of running that you are not used to doing.

Another issue with running is injury. Typically, most injuries occur when running too much, too fast or with poor form. With practice and a disciplined progression, you can improve all types of running. In the end, doing so will make you a more well-rounded tactical athlete.

Here is a workout that blends several types of running into a single workout. This progression helps you warm up properly, increase speed and push some goal-paced running times for military timed runs.

Warmup

Start with an easy jog to get the blood flowing -- 1 mile easy run or 10-minute bike or elliptical (if you prefer non-impact to warm up).

Shuttle runs and dynamic stretches. Many new tactical fitness tests are incorporating shuttle runs. Adding them to your workout is a good plan, even if you simply are warming up with them.

300-yard shuttle run one: 12 x 25-yard runs. Try to increase pace each lap but also mix in some dynamic stretches like butt kickers, leg swings and high knee lifts during some of the 25-yard sets.

300-yard shuttle run two: 6 x 50-yard runs. Build up speed with each 100-yard lap (50 yards x 2 lengths). Remember this is not a full sprint. If you are not used to sprinting (i.e., have not sprinted in years), it is not recommended to run at 100% of your max capability today. Maybe make your 100% about 75%-80% on this and the rest of the workout.

Note: You will pull hamstrings, groins, hip flexors, calves and Achilles' tendons if you run too fast, too soon.

The workout: fast running and decreasing rest time

Repeat 10 times: 100 meters at one-minute intervals. Every minute on the minute, run 100 meters. This is not that hard, as most people get about 20 to 30 seconds with a moderate-paced running effort. The hard part is the interval. Increase your speed and see whether you can rest longer.

Repeat five times: 100 meters at 50-second intervals. Drop the rest period by 10 seconds and run 100 meters every 50 seconds.

Repeat five times: 100 meters at 40-second intervals. It starts to get a little tougher, mainly keeping up with the rest intervals. Shoot for 20 seconds per 100 meters and 20 seconds of rest.

This workout is similar to the Manchester United Football Club (UK), where you do many 100-meter fast runs. See link for what they do as their fitness test (39 x 100-meter runs).

Workout part two -- goal pace running

Now try to run your timed run distance and shoot close to your goal pace for as much of the run as possible.

For instance, if you are trying to run two miles in 14 minutes, try two seven-minute miles or four 3:30 half-miles.

If you want to add in more distance, double your timed run distance and try a negative split goal.

For instance, if your timed run is a 1.5-mile timed run, do your first 1.5 miles easy at, say, 11 minutes, but push the second 1.5-mile run at 10 minutes or faster.

Monitor your quarter- and half-mile times to make sure you are on the right pace and did not start out too fast or too slow, however you decide to run these distances.

Grand finale -- non-impact finale:

Add in a cooldown, non-impact activity. For candidates or active-duty members who swim as part of their profession, get in the pool, cool down and loosen those hips with an easy 10-minute swim, 10-minute tread and 10 minutes of dynamic stretches in chest-deep water.

Otherwise, try a bike, elliptical or rower for the following mini-mobility day:

Repeat 2-3 times:

5-minute bike, elliptical, rower

5-minute stretch or foam roller

This is a tough workout that requires a significant warmup, so listen to your body and keep the pace slow at first before really trying to open your stride like a sprinter's. If you feel tight from previous leg days, long runs or rucks, you should consider the 80% rule -- make your 100% only 80% today.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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