Training

Benchmark A Better You: Week 3 Run Workouts

It’s time for week 3 of the Benchmark Challenge with workouts from legendary running coach, Bobby McGee.

Welcome to the third week of Triathlete’s Benchmark A Better You run month! By now you should have already done either your benchmark 5K or test set last weekend and last week’s workouts, but if you’re a little late to the party, you can still do your benchmark and simply shift the workouts’ start date accordingly. You can find week 1 here and week 2 here. Whenever you start, you won’t want to miss out on this opportunity to jumpstart your running this year with handwritten workouts from one of the sport’s top run coaches, Bobby McGee!

Each Monday we’ll post the run workouts for the week with a brief explanation and tips on how to properly complete each session. While you shouldn’t run more than suggested, feel free to sprinkle in swims, bike sessions, cross training, and core/strength workouts where your schedule (and energy levels) allow. 

Also, each week will have two “flavors”: beginner and advanced. You should consider yourself a beginner if you come from a non-running background, are returning to running after a long time off, are recovering from an injury, or are looking to increase your running volume very slowly. Those who choose the advanced options should have a moderate-to-high running background, been running through the winter, or those who are confident in their running ability. To be clear, “beginner” does not mean slow, and “advanced” does not mean fast—a  triathlete who is a lifelong runner with little-to-no history of injury should follow the advanced program, even if he or she averages 12 minutes/mile in a 5K.

This week’s workouts finally introduce some pretty strong efforts, building off the last two weeks’ slow ramp back into shape. Be sure to read each workout carefully and be realistic about your level as the intervals get longer with more reps. Pay close attention to how your body feels through each set and adjust as you’ll just be getting your “fast feet” underneath you for the first time in a while. Don’t rush the rest intervals or warm ups, especially this time of year!

Benchmark a Better You: Run Workout Week #3

Note: Session notes are located after the weekly table.

Week-Specific Notes:

Jan. 19 session: 

  • Beginner: Warm up with a short walk, then 5 to 10 minutes of easy running. Complete some dynamic mobility drills if you know and use these. Run 4 x 1 minute at best controlled effort with a 1-minute walk between each. After the last minute, walk for 2 minutes, and jog for one minute. Then, on a surface similar to the upcoming time trial, run 3 strong, and controlled 5-minute efforts, with a 2-minute walk between each. Cool down with a 2-minute walk and a relaxed 5- to 7-minute run. 
  • Advanced: Warm up with a short walk, then 5 to 10 minutes of easy running. Complete some dynamic mobility drills if you know and use these. Run 6 x 1 minute at best controlled effort with a 1-minute walk between each. After the last minute, walk for 2 minutes, and jog for one minute. Then, on a surface similar to the upcoming time trial, run 4 strong, and controlled 5-minute efforts, with a 2-minute walk between each. Cool down with a 2-minute walk and a relaxed 5- to 7-minute run.

Jan. 21 session: 

  • Beginner: Warm up with a short walk, then 5 to 10 minutes of easy running. Complete some dynamic mobility drills if you know and use these. Complete 4 strides. Then run 4 x 30 seconds hill/incline strides with a walk down recovery. Rest 3 minutes and complete 3 x 3-minute efforts at best controlled effort on the flat, with 90 seconds walking between each. Cool down with a 2-minute walk and a relaxed 5- to 7-minute run. 
  • Advanced: Warm up with a short walk, then 5 to 10 minutes of easy running. Complete some dynamic mobility drills if you know and use these. Complete 6 strides. Then run 6 x 30 seconds hill/incline strides with a walk down recovery. Rest 3 minutes and complete 4 x 3-minute efforts at best controlled effort on the flat, with 90 seconds walking between each. Cool down with a 2-minute walk and a relaxed 5- to 7-minute run.

Overall Plan Notes:

  1. Athletes running only 3 times per week may choose to supplement their run training with walks. These are suggested in some form each week.
  2. Remember to take at least one day of a good recovery, but if you do two-a-days with swim and bike, these are best either completed back to back, (i.e., as one session) or with at least 5 hours apart.

Endurance Workout Notes:

  1. Walk 3 to 5 minutes before and after every endurance workout 
  2. Choose the duration that best suits your current ability – doing more than you are currently doing will be unnecessarily risky and little stands to be gained
  3. It is highly recommended that individuals that have done no to little running, or are larger athletes, or have a slower gait consider the walk/run/walk method. Choose from a 4-minute run, 1-minute walk pattern, all the way up to a 9-minute walk/1-minute run pattern. The longer the run, the shorter the pattern. Complete beginners would do well to even consider 1, 2 or 3 minutes of running, with a 1-minute walk between.
  4. When choosing the run/walk/run approach, cover the duration suggested in the workout by running; the walks are extra. For example, if you choose to run for 30 minutes using a 4/1 pattern, then you will run 7 x 4-minute efforts and 1 x 2-minute run effort with 7 minutes of total walking in addition to your 30 total minutes of running.
  5. Advanced runners can consider the 6 to 9-minute run with a 1-minute (or less) walk for runs of durations at or above an hour. This will allow for greater progression and more rapid recovery with no loss of endurance benefits.

Stride Notes:

  1. Strides are essential neuromuscular conditioners that transfer your cardio-vascular endurance into faster running.
  2. Strides are pick-ups or acceleration runs that start gradually and build to a safe speed just beyond the fastest speed that you run for intervals or repetitions.
  3. If you know, or usually complete some dynamic mobility drills, these can be completed before strides AND quality workouts.
  4. Strides are of very brief duration. Keep them under 9 seconds. I suggest counting either left or right foot strikes only – keep these at 16 strides or less. 
  5. Rest between strides by slowly walking back over the distance covered in the stride before starting again.
  6. Keep these strides progressive—i.e., the 1st stride should only be just quicker than your easy pace while working your way up with each ensuing stride until the final one is at your fastest comfortable safe pace.
  7. Complete between 4 and 6 strides per session.