If you’re a beginner runner who’s worked up to running steadily without stopping for at least four or five kilometres, you may be wondering what you should do next. While yes, you can continue doing even-paced runs and try to increase your mileage (and you should!), this may start to get a bit boring. Adding in one or two workouts into your weekly schedule will make your training more interesting and improve your fitness at the same time. Not sure where to start? These four workouts are great for beginners who are just getting acquainted with speed work.
“Fartlek” is a Swedish term that means speed play. A fartlek workout can be used by runners of all levels, but its loose, fun structure is great for beginners because you don’t need to worry about timing your intervals or your rest. This style of workout allows you to run by feel and learn how to push your body in a low-pressure way.
To do a fartlek workout, start out by running at a steady, even pace for the first five to 10 minutes, as you would for a regular run. Once you’re warmed up, choose a landmark in the distance, and pick up speed until you reach it. Slow back down to an easy jog, and once you’re ready, pick another landmark and go again. Many runners like to use lamp posts, driveways or mailboxes to mark their destinations, but you can choose whatever works for you.
Continue running fast and easy sections for the remainder of the run, leaving five to 10 minutes at the end for a cooldown.
Hill workouts are a great way to build strength and work on good running form, which is why they’re great for beginners who want to start off on the right foot. They are also easily scalable according to your current running abilities.
To perform a hill workout, find a moderately-steep hill nearby that you can run up for at least one minute. Start out by jogging for five or 10 minutes to warm up, ending at the bottom of the hill. Start by running for 20-30 seconds up the hill, focusing on driving with your knees and pumping your arms. Jog or walk back down to the bottom and do it again. Repeat this as many times as you like, then do a five to 10-minute cooldown jog to complete the workout.
You can also try this beginner hill workout here.
Straights and curves
A track is a great tool for beginners because it’s a flat, relatively forgiving surface where you don’t have to worry about being interrupted by traffic lights. The track also provides another great opportunity to practice good running form while getting your legs moving a little quicker.
To perform a straights and curves workout, start by jogging around the track two or three times to warm up. Once you’ve done that, continue running around the track, running hard on the straights and jogging or walking the curves. Aim to complete at least five laps (that’s two kilometres on a 400m track) before doing another couple of laps as a cooldown. Check out more beginner track workouts here.
If you’ve got a friend who’s also a beginner runner, a relay workout is a great way for the two of you to do some speed work together. A track is a perfect place to do this workout, but even a field or a small loop in a neighbourhood will work.
To do a relay workout, warm up together with a five to 10-minute easy jog. Then, one of you will run one lap at a faster pace, while the other one waits. When the first runner arrives back at the starting point, the other will take off. Keep alternating laps like this for 15-20 minutes. To make this even more fun, use a baton of some kind (a stick, a ruler…even a banana!) to hand off to each other before each lap.