Short runs: they’re not just for beginners, you know. In fact, one you’ve mastered the 5K distance, or even one mile, there’s really no need to plod your way on to a 10K, half or full marathon... unless you want to, of course!
If you’re happy sticking with shorter distances, you can still make sure you have a great workout: as your fitness progresses, simply push yourself harder in the time you have. And even if you’re a committed long-distance runner, it’s still important to slip a few short runs into your weekly training, for maximum fitness gains minus the injury and burnout risk.
Here’s how to add a little spice to those shorter sessions...
Aim for an elusive negative split (running the second half of a session quicker than the first half) on an out-and-back run. Simply run for half the amount of time you have (say, ten minutes), then turn and aim to get back to your starting point in nine minutes.
Try continuous hills
Will it hurt? Yup. Will you be buzzing afterward? Hell yes. Continuous hills differ from hill sprints in that you don’t simply run up the hill and then walk/jog down to recover.
Find a hill, then run up and down it for a set number of minutes (let’s start with three), making sure you’re working equally hard on the downhill as you do the uphill. After three minutes, walk/jog up and down the hill to recover for three minutes. Perform a set number of reps.
Play with speed
Heard of ‘Fartlek’ sessions? This Swedish term translates into ‘speed play’… so have fun with it! There are no set intervals here, simply head out for a run, then increase/decrease your speed as you see fit. Yo could jog to the first lamppost, pick up your pace to the next one, sprint to try to overtake that dog walker and then do a threshold lap around the park. It’s your session – enjoy it!
Do some short intervals
Got 20 minutes? Try running a minute fast followed by a minute easy, ten times. The time will fly because you’re mixing things up so regularly – more exciting than a steady 20 minutes any day!
During a short run of 20 minutes or so, accelerate quickly for 15 or 20 seconds, until you’re almost sprinting, then decrease your speed back down to a jog once more. Perform this four to six times, to wake up those fast-twitch muscles!
Add strength work
To really mix things up, add a little strength work into the mix, to create a mini circuits session. Run to the nearest bench, then perform 30 seconds of triceps dips, run on a little further and find an area of flat grass to perform 30 seconds of sit-ups etc. You can add anything you like, from planks to standing press-ups against a tree... be creative!
Run with friends
If all else fails and you’re still in need of motivation, grab a friend to keep you company while you run... there’s nothing like a spot of gossip to spice up your running!