1. Get Stuck on Repeat
Running a set of repeats interspersed with intervals for recovery is a simple way to mix things up. Choose a distance or time period (200 meters or 45 seconds, for example) and run hard. Rest for a set period of time and do it all again (and again). The Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale is an intuitive way to loosely measure your effort, no heart rate monitor or other gadgetry required.
For most workouts, repeats should feel like a “7” to “9” on an RPE scale, (ie. a rough approximation of “intensity”) and recovery intervals can either be full rest, walking, or light jogging. Start the next repeat when you’ve caught your breath enough to talk comfortably. The longer or harder the repeat, the more recovery you’ll need.
2. Climb a Ladder
Ladders add a different challenge to the traditional interval workout with repeats that grow increasingly more challenging (in distance or intensity) as the workout progresses. For example, you might run 200m, rest, run 400m, rest, run 600m, rest, and so on. This kind of workout is good practice for managing exertion throughout a workout—going hard while leaving something in the tank to finish strong. Check out a couple of sample ladder workouts for both beginning and advanced runners.
3. Step Up
Find stairs or a stadium that’s open to the public and run them again and again. As with hills, the walk down is your recovery. Increase the challenge by taking a few at a time. Shadowboxing optional.
4. Take on Tabatas
While most speed workouts call for hard effort, Tabata trainingdemands an all-out sprint. The idea is to go as hard as you possibly can for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat that couplet eight times as hard as you can, on stairs, flats, or however else you’ve planned your workout. Newer runners should start with fewer repeats and gradually build up to the complete four-minute workout.
5. Go Climbing
Tackling a long hill with a slow climb or running hard up a short, steep incline challenges your aerobic fitness, leg strength, and mental toughness all at once . Plan a running route that includes a few hills, or find a hill that requires a steep climb and run repeats. If you choose the latter, the walk to back to the base is recovery.