Over the winter, why not shift your focus to developing a solid base of fitness and preparing your body for the stresses it will face in the forthcoming race season. A great way of doing this is to add circuit training sessions into your weekly regime.
Circuit training is a very efficient form of conditioning; it strengthens your body, develops endurance, flexibility and coordination. It combines a series of strength exercises with running and speed work.
Here’s one of my favourite circuit workouts.
This workout is simple, versatile and easy to complete; in the park, on local trails, in the gym, or at home on a treadmill. All you need is a watch and somewhere to perform the supplementary exercises.
Complete 1 to 3 sets depending on your fitness level and how much time you have.
It’s critical to warm up adequately. You may have your own method of warming up – here’s mine
- Jog for 10-15 minutes; follow with dynamic stretching exercises such as forward and side leg swings, high kicks, lunges, heel taps and squats. Then complete four to six 30-second strides at 5k effort, starting slow and building each time.
- Begin with 10 - 20 standard pushups and immediately follow with a 30-second sprint at 90% max effort. Focus on maintaining good form throughout.
- Take a 30-second standing/walking recovery, then assume a front plank position for 30 seconds.
- Follow front plank with 1 minute of easy walking/jogging, then immediately transition into 1 minute of running at 5k pace effort.
- Take a standing/walking recovery, then perform 10 – 20 reverse dips on a chair or bench.
- Immediately follow the dips with 1 x 30 second sprint at 90% max effort, keep good form and drive the arms for the duration.
- Jog easy for 1 minute then assume a plank position on the right-side for 30 seconds.
- Immediately follow the plank with a 30-second sprint at 90% max effort.
- Jog easy for 1 minute then assume a plank position on the left-side for 30 seconds.
- Immediately follow the plank with 1 x 30 second sprint at 90% max effort.
- Take a standing / walking recovery, then perform 10 – 20 squats.
- After completing the squats, catch your breath for 30 seconds, then run for 5 minutes at an effort that falls between 10k and half marathon pace.
- Take a 1 minute standing / walking recovery after your 5-minute effort.
- Perform a set of burpees for 30 - 45 seconds.
- Take a 1 minute standing / walking recovery after the burpees.
- Finish with 1 minute of fast running at 5k pace keeping good form. If you want to simulate kicking at the end of a race, try sprinting the last 30 seconds. This will get your body used to that final sprint over the finish line.
Jog for 10 – 15 minutes; follow with gentle static stretching exercises including calf, quadriceps, hamstring, adducter, achilles and glutes.
Make sure you hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and take long deep breaths to relax your body. Any initial tightness should gradually diminish as you hold the stretch. You will feel slight discomfort from the stretch, but it shouldn’t be painful. Complete 2 – 3 repetitions of each stretch if you have time.
This is not an easy workout so be sure to recover accordingly. If you haven’t been doing any intense speed workouts or supplementary strengthening exercises, this session will likely leave you sore for a few days, so adjust the number of sets and effort level given your age, experience and where you are in your training plan.