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Have you ever wished that you could magically transport yourself 200 meters from the finish line at your next race? Leave all of that other stuff behind and simply unleash an awesome kick in front of your friends and family? Unfortunately, you have to get through the other 99 percent of the race first, but if you’re properly prepared, you can arrive at the final straightaway with the tools to still blow the doors off competitors.
As a former collegiate runner and pro triathlete, I’ve had my share of killer final kicks (outkicking a runner from a rival school to break my college’s school record in the distance medley relay) and heartbreaking misses at the line (years later, losing a podium spot at the 2013 L.A. Triathlon to a former collegiate rival). In order to keep my finish sharp, I turn to a tough track workout called windups.
Windups are a good way to build speed on top of tired legs without the stress of hitting splits or doing endless repeats.
The warm-up should be slightly faster than what feels like an easy jog, about a 3/10 effort and should be twice the distance of your actual windups.
The objective with windups is to maintain excellent running form under stress. The hard efforts are short, so with every step think about running tall, running on the forefoot and leaning forward as a solid unit from the hips.
Not only do windups help with the all-important kick, but changes in pace with good form are a great way to build aerobic capacity and overall leg speed. Do windups no more than once a week in the lead-up to your next race, and this workout could make the difference between winning your age group and months of regret.
Warm-up: 4 miles at 3/10 effort
Main set: 2 miles of windups
Total run: 6 miles
Without stopping, finish the warm-up on the track and go right into the following, starting at the end of the straightaway, going into a turn.
- Slowly build to 7/10 effort around the bend (from 0–100 meters)
- Sustain an 8/10 effort coming off the bend to the halfway mark of the straightaway (from 100–150 meters)
- Easy jog to the next bend (from 150–200 meters)
- Slowly build to 7/10 effort around the bend (from 200–300 meters)
- Sustain 8/10 effort at start of straightaway (from 300–350 meters)
- Hard 9/10 kick through the finish line (from 350–400 meters)
- Jog a 400-meter lap very easy
Each set is 800 meters. For 2 miles of windups, do four sets.