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Workout Wednesday: Run the intervals you’re dealt

deckofcardsFinding new ways to spice up your weekly workout can be tough. You’ve done the hills, the track repeats and even the long intervals and are feeling fitter and faster every week.

But unlike a planned workout where you know exactly what’s coming and what you need to do, races present uncertainty, unpredictability and the need to respond quickly.

Today’s workout introduces an element of uncertainty in that you won’t know how long/far you need to run until just before the workout begins.

The premise is simple. You’ll draw a card from a standard deck and run an interval that lasts the value of the card drawn. E.g. A four of hearts is a four minute interval. Eight of spades is eight minutes. Face cards and aces (fortunately) mean a one-minute interval.

Runners Soul Marathon Club Photo by Ralph ArnoldIf possible, this workout is best done with a group but can also be done solo or with a training partner. If running solo, draw between 4 and 8 cards but only view them one at a time. You can’t know how long the next interval will be! Once you finish the first interval and after taking some rest, look at the next card and run the interval according to the cards value. Repeat until finished or in the case of a bad draw, you can’t finish (i.e. maintain your paces).

If running with a partner, draw the same number of cards and take turns leading an interval. If running as part of a group, have everyone draw a single card and keep the value to themselves. Decide an order in which to run and then begin the workout with each runner leading out their interval with the others not knowing how long it will last. No one should be running faster than the person leading the interval. Continue until everyone has led their interval and repeat as necessary.

hill workoutThe speed at which you run the intervals should be right around goal race pace in order to become more comfortable at that speed but also to maintain that speed for a longer and uncertain amount of time. The recovery between intervals can either be a set time (between two and five minutes) or else you can draw additional cards to determine the amount of rest in between intervals. Be warned however that this can make for some unfortunate and painful pairings (E.g. a ten minute interval followed by one minute of rest).

There is no winning or losing the workout. You can only hope to handle whatever hand you’re dealt and will ultimately spend valuable time running at goal race pace. Remember, running and training should be fun so spice things up and play some cards.