Specific Ideas For Working Out At Home
By: James Williams
Good For - Maintaining or improving general running fitness. You can also use it to focus on speed and strength by incorporating some hills and higher speed workouts.
Keep it Simple - Just run like you normally would, at your normal pace, for your normal distance or time. When treadmill running, a lot of sources say that you should have the incline set to about 1%. This is to replicate the feeling of running outside.
Get Stronger - This is a great opportunity to work on an element of running that most runners forget. Hills! Hill repeats are great for building strength in your legs without lifting the dreaded weights. You can structure these sessions in a few ways. One way is to do a lot of short, sharp hill repeats. Set the incline high for a short period of time and get to a high intensity. Make sure to have adequate recovery between each rep. The second option is to have a long, slow drag. This is where you set the incline at a gradual level, but do it for a long period of time. Or a third option is a mixture of the two. Set the incline at a fairly big level and for a long duration… And you can practice your power-walking, which is something that is neglected by ultra-runners but is critically important for the later stages of racing. Remember that all routines should include an easy warm-up or warm down.
Get Faster - Treadmills are a really great option for practicing speed work. You can easily set the speed and distance that you want to train at. There are lots of options for creating a speedwork session. You could do many repeats of a very short distance, at a high intensity (for example, 6 - 10 repeats of 400-meter sprints, or 6 - 10 repeats of three minutes at higher speed). Or you could do longer, "tempo" workouts. This is where you work at a slightly lower intensity than sprints, perhaps your goal race pace, but you work out for much longer.
Good For - If you don’t have a treadmill or don’t want to run on a treadmill, then one of the other aerobic machines will provide a great workout. These are also good if you’re recovering from an injury and can’t stand the hard impact of running.
Ideas for Workouts - Much the same as on a treadmill. You can either keep it simple and just exercise, or you can mix it up by doing higher intensity repetitions.
Good For - If you’re still looking to get some training in to improve your cardio, but you don’t have any of the equipment on the previous page, there are still options! Us runners have a habit to go in one direction constantly... forward. Naturally, that is the most specific form of exercise for us and we should focus most of our time on running, but there are lots of different variations of cardio sessions that can force us to move our bodies in different directions and improve overall fitness. This can improve form and strengthen weak areas.
Ideas for Workouts - Circuits are a great way of forcing us to move differently. These are where you think of a number of different exercises that you perform in repetitions for a short amount of time. You then move through these different exercises throughout a session.
Strength and Conditioning
Good For - Strength and conditioning work can help you improve form, make you more injury resilient, improve power, strength, endurance, and speed. Similar to hill repeats and speed work, it’s something that is often neglected. So now is a great time to create a new habit and add it to your training routine.
Ideas for Workouts - As with any new type of exercise, if you’re doing this for the first time, make sure to ease into it. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t have to lift heavy weights or weights at all, for this to be effective. Many people, myself included, use their own body weight in these workouts. The key with any strength and conditioning routine is to focus on form, rather than the weight you’re lifting or how many reps you’re doing. There are loads of people and companies offering strength and conditioning workouts that you can do in your own home.
Here are the two that I’ve used consistently and love:
The Nike Training App - I’ve used this free app for a long time as it has an excellent selection of workouts. You can filter by workout type, and the time and equipment you have available. My favorite workout? The 20-minute "Glute and Hip Strength" workout and the 30-minute "Burpees, Bounds and Bridges" workout. You don’t need any equipment either.
Fitness Blender - Similar to the Nike Training app, in that it has a huge selection of free workouts, covering many different types. There seems to be more workouts, but, unfortunately, there is no actual app, just a website, which makes it slightly less accessible. Still, Fitness Blender is hugely popular and a great site. My favorites? The 50-minute "Lower Body Active Static Strength Workout" and the "10-Minute Abs Workout."
Les Mills - This website has opened up hundreds of workout videos for people during the Coronavirus pandemic. There are lots of high quality videos on here, which you normally pay a premium for.
Take advantage here!
Good For - Runners are known as a particularly inflexible bunch. And so now, confined largely to our homes and smaller spaces, it is a great opportunity to change that.
Improving mobility and flexibility is another one of those things that gets neglected, but one that can have a huge positive impact on running when done correctly.
Ideas for Workouts - One of my favorite mobility exercises is yoga, and there are loads of options for runners out there. A simple Google for "Yoga for Runners" turns up thousands of results.
My favorite resource is the free Nike Training app. In particular, the 20-minute "Lower Body Strength Yoga" workout and the 43-minute "Ultimate Strength Yoga" workout.
Train Your Mind
Good For - Preparing for the tough moments in training and races when you need your mental strength to be as strong as possible.
Ideas for Workouts - I’ve still classed these as "workouts" because you need to take the time to think about the specific strategies that you will use in a race. You need to make a specific plan for how and when you will use them, and you should practice them just like any other part of your training plan.
I have some strategies that I’ve found effective, including:
Focusing on process goals, not performance or outcome goals.
To focus on what you can control the most using if/then strategies to help plan for when things go wrong in races.
Trigger words: These words are special to you and can help you snap out of a negative mindset quickly.
A really basic routine could look something like:
Think of 5 - 10 simple exercises with or without weights.
Do the first exercise for 20 - 30 seconds at a high intensity.
Move to the next one, and repeat for all the exercises.
At the end of a complete round, or "circuit" of all exercises, have a rest.
Repeat another circuit.
You can do 3 - 5 of these circuits in one session.
These are great because they keep you engaged, motivated, and you can track your progress easily.
Plus, you can change your exercise whenever you want.
About the Author
James Williams is a father of two, husband, and runner with race victories at 100 miles, 100km, marathons, half-marathons, 10k's and 5k's. Most recently, he attempted to break a world-record by running more than 800 miles in 9 days from the bottom of the UK to the top. He writes informative articles to help other runners improve their own performance and achieve their dreams on www.JamesRunsFar.com