Running your best in 12-Months Challenge

12-month runningBuild strength, endurance and speed, and you will be running your best year ever in 2017! Over the next 12-months, we are going back to the fundamentals to build a sound foundation that will do just that.

Running well requires strength and flexibility for both speed and endurance as well as mental focus and awareness. We also need to remain injury-free! This challenge is spread out over 12 months with new challenges added every month.

Each month builds on the last. To prevent us from getting ahead of ourselves and skipping steps, the challenges will be delivered monthly. Yes, skipping is most likely what I would have done since I am after all a “seasoned runner”, hehe. However, since we’re intent on building fundamentals, stick with the program (I’m in on this!). You can choose to make it a little easier, or harder, but remember if you want to grow you need to extend yourself.

To help make this more fun, add a sense of community, and build accountability, we created a 12-month Running Challenge Group on Facebook where we can share how we’re doing, inspire and be inspired, ask questions, etc. This page will be private and anyone who wants to join needs to sign up to be added. Go ahead and invite your buddies to sign up.

Here’s the first challenge to get you started. Sign up here to be added to the group: Congratulations on accepting the challenge! SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM FOR THE LATEST CHALLENGE!


CHALLENGE #1Run every day!

Establish a consistent running base by cultivating the habit of running every day. Log your mileage, time run, and whatever else you like to record. Distance can be anything from one mile up and up. Increase the distance up to 10% each week. Post your progress and questions in the Comments below and also tell us a bit about yourself so we can get to know each other!

You can also join us on our Facebook Group, “12-month Running Challenge Group” – The monthly challenges will be posted on both sites.

CHALLENGE #2Post-run strength training

Last month we focused on getting into the habit of running every day. This month we’re adding a post-run strength routine. For injury prevention, strength work is one of your best bets. Building core and leg strength is key to running faster and stronger and essential for preventing injury.

Starting this week add a 10-15 minutes strength session after at least 3 of your runs.

To help you get started, try some or all of the 10 Strength Building poses for Runners listed below, or alternate and change it up. These poses focus on the core, lower and middle back, shoulders, and glutes, with lunges additionally working the quads and hamstrings. Practice each pose for 45 to 60 seconds. When this becomes easy add more sets! Feel free to contact me if you’re not clear on how to do the exercises. Have FUN!

Another option is practicing yoga, specifically Forrest Yoga because of its strong focus on the core, longer holding of poses, and attention to alignment and breath.

10 strength building poses for Runners

  1. Forearm planks, side planks & single leg planks – hold 45 to 60 seconds. To up-level do with leg lifts.
  2. Upward-facing forearm plank: Lift the left leg about 20 inches, hold for 3-5 breaths, switch sides.
  3. Scorpion: Plank with feet on a step/bench, knee to opposite elbow, both ways.
  4. Back extensions: Prone – Locust with arms extended forward, lift legs, arms and chest.
  5. Overhead lunge: Holding dumbbells reach the arms up, step left foot forward, and lower back knee bringing the front thigh parallel to the floor and keeping the knee behind the toes. Step that foot back and repeat the other side. To down-level bend the elbows. Works quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders and core.
  6. V-ups: Wear socks, or place a towel under the feet – Starting in plank, exhale slide both feet in towards your hands, lifting the hips upwards into downward dog (v-up), inhale slide feet back into plank.
  7. Bridge – lift the left leg and extend it straight forward (knee height), hold for a few breaths, change sides.
  8. Modified bird-dog: Starting on all fours, extend right arm forward and lift left knee, keeping the knee bent @ 90-degree angle.
  9. Bicycle variation: Arms alongside the body, extend the left leg up and bend the knee 90-degrees, lift the other leg about 3 inches off the floor. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides. Keep lower back neutral.
  10. Russian twist: Lie with the knees bent 90-degrees, feet up and arms out to the sides – exhaling low the knees to left without putting them down, inhale legs back up, exhale to the other side. To level-up keep both legs straight.

CHALLENGE #3 – Introducing Speed Work

There is nothing like speed work to add excitement to your running program. Speed sessions are invigorating and very quickly show results through improved running times. To keep things interesting, we’ve included a variety of workout suggestions here that build strength, quick leg turnover, and explosive speed.

Starting early in March include 2 or 3 different speed sessions every week with easy days in between. Change it up every week to keep things interesting. Be sure to warm up 15 minutes before each speed session and cool down after for 10-15 min! Log your workouts, times, how you felt, and whatever else you like to record.

Workout Suggestions:

  1. Hill Repeats
  2. Interval/track session
  3. Fartlek
  4. Pyramids, a.k.a. Ladders
  5. Progression
  6. Fast Finish your long Long Run

Some of these workouts may be unfamiliar to you so here’s how they work:

  • Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play”. You play with speed by running faster for short periods, followed by easy recovery running. This is fun in a group setting if you alternate the leader who decides the pace and distance for the next fast leg. Instead of using your watch to determine the run time, pick out a tree, lamp pole, or another landmark to run to.Pyramids (a.k.a. ladders) – these are speed sessions that vary the length intervals in incremental steps and are an excellent way to mix up high-intensity running paces in a single session. An example: 1600 meters – 1200 – 800 – 400 – 800 – 1200 – 1600.
  • In Progression runs, you start slower, work up to a steady paced rhythm for a predetermined distance and speed, and then cool down.

Let me know if you have any questions about how to do these or how to fit them into your training schedule. To get you started, you might try this option:

Sunday: Long run Monday: Easy Tuesday: Progression: 15-minute warm-up, 6-mile steady/tempo run, 15-minute cool-down Wednesday: Hill Repeats: 25-minute warm-up, short-hill sprint series, 20-minute cool-down Thursday: Easy Friday: Track session – 4 to 6 x 800m hard/ 400m easy Saturday: Easy

CHALLENGE #4 – Setting a Mile PR

Last month we added a variety of speed workouts to our running schedule. What improvements have you noticed? Maybe your tempo speed has gotten faster, or track times have improved, or the hill reps feel easier? Or all the above, right!

By the end of this month, we want to set a new mile Personal Record. We’ll achieve this through specific speed training, including half-mile (800m) repeats and pyramids (ladder runs).

This week go out and run a mile as fast as you can to establish your current mile time – as always, warm up before and cool down after. Continue with your speed work and at the end of the month go out and set that mile PR!

For inspiration, try these workouts on your speed workout days (do I need to say it? warm up, cool down!)

  • 4 x 100 meters hard 100 meter easy > 2 x 200m hard 20-m easy > 4 x 100m hard100meter easy
  • 2 x 800m hard 3-minute easy > 2 x 400m hard 2-min easy > 4 x 100m hard 100m easy
  • 16 x 100m strides with 100m easy jog in between
  • Progression runs
  • Hill Repeats ( or stairs)
  • Ladder session: 100m (45 sec easy) > 200m (90 sec easy) > 300m (2 min easy) > 400m (2.5 min easy > 500m (3 min easy) > 600m (3 min easy) > 500m (3 min easy) > 400m (2.5 min easy > 300m (2 min easy) > 200m (90 sec easy) > 100m (45 sec easy)

CHALLENGE #5 – Building Running Consistency

Consistency means running whether you feel like it or not. This month our goal is to establish a routine of running 5 times a week, including easy, long, and workout runs. This allows for one day to cross train and a day of rest.

To run well we need to train no matter the weather, not feeling like it, or commitments.

This is not easy! How many times have you skipped a run because it was freezing, wet and windy out? My biggest challenge has always been afternoon workouts. As the scheduled workout gets closer, the mind starts making a case for why I “can’t” run. There are so many convenient excuses – it’s been a hard day, I’m tired, and there’s so much still to do, I have to cook, or go to the store. Or I snacked and can’t train with food in my stomach. Yes, even after decades of running, planning an afternoon workout is dicey! For me mornings works best.

Tips to help build consistency:

  1. Apparently willpower is higher in the morning and weakens as the day wears on. Factor that in when planning your runs.
  2. Have a preset time for each workout where no obligations or conflicts can stop you from running. This might mean getting up really early to run first thing in the morning. Training with a group or buddy will help make you accountable.
  3. Set and track your goals to help establish your routine. It’s important that your running has a purpose so that when you start doubting you’re motivated to run regardless. Don’t beat yourself up and become discouraged when you end up missing an objective, own the reason, and move on.

What trips you up when it comes to being consistent? How can you work with that? Contact me if you need help with this.

, , ,

6 Responses to Running your best in 12-Months Challenge

  1. Charmaine May 9, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

    Challenge #5 learn how to build consistency.

  2. Charmaine May 9, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    Challenge #4 More speed-work… Could you set a new mile PR?

  3. Charmaine May 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    Challenge #3 adds speed-work to the mix. These workouts are hard, but shorter and exhilarating! And FUN?

  4. Charmaine May 9, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

    Challenge # 2 was about building strength. Did you try any of the suggested workouts? Which are you favorite? Or do you have a favorite routine to share with us?

  5. Charmaine January 9, 2016 at 7:20 pm #

    Life’s a Gift would love to read your comments. We know that having to log-in is a pain, and apologize in advance for this requirement. However, due to spam we need to make sure that you are a real person. Thank you for bearing with us!

  6. Charmaine January 6, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Sometimes work and family commitments get in the way of our goals and we need to get creative to find a way to fit in what we want to do, such as our daily run. You might have to train at a different time or just run a shorter distance. Fitting it in any which way is how we build consistency. Stick with it!