My wife and I celebrated our first anniversary on Sunday — people say we’re still nauseatingly adorable. Perhaps that’s why she agreed to join in the summer running workouts with me.
Actually, that’s got to be the only reason.
My wife is incredibly thin thanks to excellent genes and has never liked exercise, often quipping that the tiredness and muscle soreness associated with working out are the reasons people shouldn’t work out.
It was a shock when she agreed to come to the track with me.
Jogging 100-meter chunks between exercises and trudging through out-and-back road runs with her has re-taught me a valuable workout lesson: the buddy system.
Let’s face it. Running can really suck sometimes. I’ve never seen a photo of a runner that didn’t look like the subject was having a genuinely enjoyable time. I don’t believe people who say they get enjoyment out of the actual running, and I can only conclude the side effect of better health is the only enjoyable part of the repetitious exercise.
But when I’ve run as part of a team or with a workout partner, the mentally and physically painful monotony of endurance running is a little less loathsome.
If you’re struggling to finish the workouts, don’t give up. My experience has taught me that it always gets easier after the first two weeks.
Grab your buddy, stopwatch and water, and head back to the track for the warmup jog and dynamic stretches. Let’s get last week’s soreness out of our legs with some easy interval repeats while also helping us learn pacing for a 5k (which is 3.17 miles).
We’re going to do 300-meter repeats with a walking recovery between each one. I’m not so worried about the number of repeats we do as much as the time we spend doing them, since everyone taking part in this workout will recover at a different walking pace.
I’ve found 30 minutes to be the goal for many first-time fun-runners, so let’s shoot for that. That means we should be able to run 3/4 of the track in 1 minute, 48 seconds — 36 seconds for the first hundred, 1:12 for the next third and 1:48 for the full length.
The easiest timing method is to set your phone’s alarm to go off every 36 seconds and train yourself to cross the next 100-meter line at every beep. If your watch doesn’t have that feature, you can use your buddy to shout every 36 seconds and take turns running the intervals.
Once the 30 minutes are up, jog a lap and do static stretches before heading home.
Hooray for easy day! Head back to the track for a warmup and recovery distance run. Run 3-5 laps at the pace we learned yesterday — 36 seconds each 100 meters and 2:24 for each lap. Jog a cool-down lap and head home after static stretches.
Same workout as yesterday, but we’re going to increase the lap count to 4-6 laps. If you’re feeling good on your last couple laps, go ahead and do a couple more but don’t ruin the recovery by doing too much. Jog a cool-down lap and head home after static stretches.
Hopefully we’ve got that 30-minute pace ingrained into our bodies, because I’m tired of running circles at the track.
Jog around for a warmup and do some dynamic stretches. Using the pace we’ve learned this week, run to a point on the map 3/4 miles away and come back without stopping at the turnaround point. You should get back to your starting point in 15 minutes — bonus points for hitting it right on. Take a water break and do a cool-down jog before stretching, just like yesterday.
Let’s increase the distance slightly. Do the same warmup and workout as yesterday, but for today’s turnaround point, pick a landmark a stone’s throw (no need to be exact) beyond yesterday’s halfway marker. Take a cool-down jog and stretch.
It’s a good thing we get a rest tomorrow, because today will be difficult. Head back to the football stadium for a warmup and some more stair running. For this workout, sprint up the stairs two or three at a time and come down as slowly as you’d like while still jogging. Jog over to the next set of stairs and do it again. Take a 30-second rest every two or three flights to get some water. Do this stupid workout for 20 minutes. I apologize to your leg muscles in advance. Jog a cool-down lap, stretch and limp home.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the two-week mark. Stretch as much as you’d like after yesterday’s stair workout and compare smoothie recipes with your workout buddy. Be sure to email me the best ones you find.
Tavin Stucki has been through way too many summer workouts as captain of his high school’s cross-country team. Email complaints about the Day 13 workout to firstname.lastname@example.org.