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What to do the Days Between Workouts

Published on March 2, 2021

What to do the days between workouts.

The Forerunners training program is based on three key workouts: Monday Tempo; Wednesday Speedwork and Saturday Long Runs. These are three quality workouts especially if you have run part of the long run at marathon pace. You need some easier days to recover for the next workout. You may be wondering about what to do on the other days.

You could add other workouts to speed up your recovery between key workouts. Here are some possible workouts that will build your fitness on easy days:

  1. Do nothing and allow yourself to rest for the next workout. Plus – recovery. Allows for more quality workouts on the key days, and faster pace running is the most efficient at improving fitness. Minus – does not add to overall fitness.
  2. Easy cross training – spinning on a stationary bike 30 to 60min. Plus – small increase in fitness and less risk of injury. Minus – not as time efficient as running.
  3. Cross training with intervals – spinning on a stationary bike with intervals such as 5 x 3 minutes faster spinning with a 3 minute rest. Plus – increase in fitness and strength. Minus – not as efficient as running.
  4. Add an easy pace 10km to 15km run. Plus – small increase in fitness – if close to marathon pace then it is more beneficial. Minus – less recovery if too fast or too far and increased risk of injury.
  5. Add an easy pace 10km to 15km run with a 3 to 4 x 2 minute pace pick-ups at tempo speed. Plus – increase in fitness. Minus less recovery and increased risk of injury.
  6. Add in an easy pace 10km to 15km run with 4 to 8 x 100m strides. Plus – increase in fitness and speed. Minus – less recovery and increased risk of injury.
  7. Running drill circuit – warm-up jog plus running drills (A,B,C, shuffles, hops etc.) with 100m to 200m sprints between each drill + warm-down jog. Plus – increase in fitness, strength and speed. Minus – less recovery and increased risk of injury.
  8. Strength circuit – warm-up jog plus circuit (push-ups, body weight squats, sit-ups, etc) with 100m to 200m sprints between each exercise + warm-down jog. Plus – increase in fitness, strength and speed. Minus – less recovery and increased risk of injury.

Much of your decision on what to do on the other days is based on where you are in your running. Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced? Are more injury prone than others? A beginner is preparing for their first or second 10km, half marathon or marathon. An intermediate runner has completed a few events and is looking to improve their time. A more advanced runner is looking for personal best times and is willing to train more to achieve it.

Beginners will improve by running three times per week on a consistent basis and adding in extra workouts is not necessary; except for strength training to prevent injury and improve running technique. Intermediate runners can improve running three times per week by concentrating on their speed and pace. They can add in another workout which will help run races faster. More advanced runners should consider adding in one or two more workouts per week as listed above. Advanced runners can improve running three workouts per week but need to run all workouts at high quality. For example it is possible to qualify for the Boston Marathon running three days per week but that requires concentration on paces during all three workouts. You don’t need to train 4 or 5 days per week all the time. You may choose to add extra running for three or four weeks when training for a key event.

When considering an easy day workout look at the benefit and the cost. The workouts should benefit your running in some way; strength, speed or endurance. Running and cross training should be sufficient speed or quality to move the fitness gauge. At the same time you should feel like you are recovered for your key workouts. Try easy day workouts a few times and monitor if you are improving. If you find a benefit keep the extra workout as part of your weekly routine.

Contributors

Carey Nelson
Co-Owner - Forerunners Main Street & Clinic Director (2007)

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