Running is often considered a boring sport. But that’s only because non-runners don’t know how to have any fun!
Running can be enormously exciting – if you challenge yourself.
There are so many opportunities to spice up your training:
- Tired of the roads? Trail running is more fun, serene, and exciting
- Want to challenge yourself? Run track workouts for a more controlled environment
- Bored? Vary your shoes, workouts, goals, and training surfaces
There are nearly countless ways to make running more fun.
But today let’s focus on one that every runner can implement this week: the type of faster workouts that you run.
Over my nearly 20 years of running, I’ve encountered more types of workouts than I can really count. Everything from workouts on the track, trail, road, and hills to sessions that focus on aerobic development, 5k-specific fitness, or maximal velocity.
Depending on your goal, there are a wide variety of workouts to help you build your fitness.
I’ve previously touched on some of these fundamental workouts:
We’re doing something different today: we’re focusing on fun workouts (yes, there exists such a thing!).
This post is an excerpt from my book 52 Workouts, 52 Weeks, One Faster: A Workout A Week for the Next Year.
Fun Runs, With or Without a Group
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” – Proverb
You can’t train seriously every day of the year. Even elite athletes take extended periods off from running or hack around doing fun workouts.
When you just can’t bring yourself to get on the track or you need a break from the structure of an interval, hill, or tempo workout then try something fun.
These workouts are less structured, based more on “feel” and some don’t even include any fast running. They are meant to rejuvenate your body, stimulate your mind, and give your body a break from the rigors of serious training.
You’re going to need a partner for most of these workouts. Running with a group, especially when you’re not being competitive, is a fun way to enjoy your training and add a much-needed social element to running.
Enjoy yourself. Smile. Have some fun.
Yes, barefoot running is a workout! It’s challenging and works all of the small muscles in your feet and lower legs that have atrophied through years of shod running.
If you’re new to running without shoes, start with 1-2 minutes on a soft surface like an artificial turf field, grass, or golf course. Keep the pace easy and take the next 2-3 days off from running barefoot.
Gradually increase the time you’re running barefoot until you can run about a mile. Most of the strength benefits of barefoot running can be realized in a mile run per week (or two half-mile runs).
Indian Run (Group Fartlek)
This workout is best done with at least five people. In a single file line, the last runner in the group has to catch up to the front of the pack. She then becomes the leader and can run as fast or slow as she wants to.
Different paces are encouraged to vary the workout and keep things interesting. The other runners don’t know how fast the leader will run so the element of surprise is constant.
You can also run this workout on a hilly course to “run the terrain” and make sure everyone is paying attention. Find a local track club, group of friends, or round up your old running buddies and hit the roads.
Preferably run on a track, the Dice Workout is a fun way to break up a hard day and is usually reserved for when you are not in a race-specific training period.
For this type of workout, 600-1000m intervals work best. Before each rep, roll a die – each number corresponds to a pace pattern that you’ll run for the entire rep. The paces aren’t exact, rather it’s the effort that counts.
- 1 = alternate easy / medium / hard every 100 meters
- 2 = alternate easy / hard every 200 meters
- 3 = run the whole interval at a medium effort
- 4 = run the whole interval at a hard effort
- 5 = alternate medium / hard every 100 meters
- 6 = alternate easy / medium every 100 meters
This is a fun workout that develops your intuitive sense of pacing. It’s not to be run fast. Instead, go your normal distance run pace.
Pick a loop that’s between 1-2 miles. You’re going to time the first loop on your watch and note the time. Run another 3-5 loops and use your watch’s split feature to keep track of every loop’s split time.
But the key here is not to look at your watch after the first lap. Try to run the same exact pace for every single loop, while splitting your watch to keep a record of your actual times.
You’re only allowed to look at your watch when you finish. How close were you to running an even pace?
Want More Workouts?
There are obviously a lot more workouts that you can run – these are just the fun running workouts! In the full book, I cover:
- Endurance is King – Become an Aerobic Powerhouse
- Sprinting 101: Distance Runners Need Speed, Too
- Fartlek Workouts (Skip the Track)
- Hills = Strength
- Get on the Pain Train: VO2 Max Workouts (and more)
You can check out the full table of contents on Amazon here.
More importantly, I want to challenge you to think differently about the workouts you complete and the structure of those workouts.
Get creative. Think differently. Challenge yourself to run a unique workout (while still moving toward your goals).
If you want a single suggestion for a great workout for runners, try a tempo run!
They’re arguably the most effective workouts for endurance runners because they allow us to run faster aerobically.
Watch our video tutorial to learn more: