With the Olympics just a few days away, this week’s One-Hour Workout comes from a member of the very first U.S. Olympic team—Ryan Bolton. Bolton raced at the Sydney Games in 2000 before turning his attention to long-course racing and then coaching. He now coaches a number of top pros, including recent Ironman Coeur d’Alene champion Sam Long (you can read about some of Long’s key workouts leading into that race here). Bolton is also the High Performance Technical Advisor to USA Triathlon and co-author of The Triathlete Guide to Sprint and Olympic Triathlon Racing.
This run workout is a simple yet effective session to help improve your run form and fitness without overly taxing any of your energy systems. It first appeared in this article: The Guide to Becoming a Better Runner.
Bolton said: “Improvements in running come from a consistent and smart approach to training—lessons that are there for anyone to learn. You don’t have to be a sub-three hour marathoner or a pro triathlete to be a smarter and better runner.”
Neuro Running is Fast Running
“There are a lot of factors to consider when we talk about how to improve our running—and training is only one of them,” Bolton said. “The first thing that comes to mind for me is that triathletes tend to lack the neuromuscular work needed to make gains in their running. It’s not just a case of running more or running faster—sure, increasing volume and speedwork can (and likely) will help—but neuromuscular work is the smarter and more efficient way to get there.”
According to Bolton, this doesn’t need to be complicated and can be done on a weekly basis by adding strides or sprints to the end of an aerobic run. The workout below involves 35 minutes of aerobic Zone 1 running, followed by a series of eight strides. Strides are shorter accelerations of about 20 seconds, ideally on grass or a soft surface. They should be 100m-200m in length, building the effort on each one and with lots of recovery in between. “You want to be totally fresh for each one and hold your very best form,” he said.
He added: “Your focus is holding perfect form throughout your 20-second strides, accelerate and hold your one-mile race pace. Walk or stand to recover for 90 seconds between each stride—don’t start your next stride until your heart rate and breathing have come down some.”
One-Hour Workout: Neuromuscular Run
35 min. of running at zone 1 (see references below) or RPE 6-7 out of 10
Strides: 8 x 20 sec. strides on grass or a soft surface. Walk or stand to recover for 90 sec. between each stride.
Tip: Count your right foot strikes during each stride. A good goal is 30 strikes for each 20-second stride.
Cool-down: 5 min. easy relaxed jogging
Coach Ryan’s Zone References
Zone >> System >> Max Heart Rate
Zone 1 >> Aerobic Recovery >> Under 74%
Zone 2 >> Endurance >> 74-79%
Zone 3 >> Intensive Endurance >> 80-83%
Zone 4 >> Sub-Threshold >> 84-89%
Zone 5 >>
A – Threshold – 90-93%
B – Anaerobic Endurance 94-97%
C – Power 98-100%
Get more 60-minute sessions from top coaches around the world in our One-Hour Workout archives.