I recently shared a secret:

I don’t love everything about running.

Sure, I absolutely love the adventure, the daily grind, and nearly everything else. But there are a few things I absolutely hate.

And after coming clean to the world (shew, that felt good!), I asked you:

“What’s the one thing you hate about running?”

Some people said “nothing,” and good for those of you who feel that way…

But just about everyone who responded was willing to admit that there are a few things they know they should do in their training, but hate it when it comes up. I heard from people on Facebook and Twitter, via email, and in the comments section. So much so that we even got a hashtag going, #HateToGreat.

What did you share? Two topics made up the overwhelming majority of what you can’t stand when it comes to training.

  1. Speed/track workouts
  2. Strength training

So today, I’m going to lay out a six-week program to conquer each. And I’ll — hopefully — do it in a way that you won’t hate.

Why is it so important to address these challenge areas?

Turning the Thing You Hate into Something Great

As it turns out, we love to hate two of the most beneficial things we can do as runners.

  • Speed work is essential for most runners to get faster and stronger. Even if you’re training for an ultramarathon or other uber-long run, the right kind of speed training will improve both power and running economy.
  • And strength training is just as — if not even more so — important. This is your single greatest tool as a runner to keep running injury free — and improve in speed and endurance on top of that.

So why do we so passionately hate two important elements of becoming a stronger runner?

Because they’re hard.

Yup. That’s pretty much all there is too it. They’re uncomfortable, difficult, and for most of us, they’re not what we love about running.

Most training plans or coaches would tell you to just do it anyway. That’s fine, but if you continue to hate it, chances are you aren’t going to actually complete the task (no matter how mean that couch may be).

Instead, I’m going to try to address the root of the problem. Let’s make those things we hate into something fun, not intimidating, and approachable.

If we’re successful, you could turn that thing you hate into a core element of your training, and maybe even into something great.

So here’s the philosophy:
  • Start small,
  • Make it flexible,
  • Have fun.

Now for the plans.

Speed Workouts You Can Get Behind

Week 1:
  • Two weekday runs with 2 x 2 min speed surges sprinkled into your typical run.
Week 2:
  • Two weekday runs with 3 x 2 min speed surges sprinkled into your typical run.
Week 3:
  • One dedicated fartlek run with at least 4 x speed surges of 3-5 minutes in length.
Week 4:
  • One dedicated tempo run. Here are a few suggestions:
    • 45 minute run with 2 x 8 min. tempo, 4 min. recovery
    • 80 minute run with 3 x 12 min. tempo, 6 min. recovery
    • 90 minute run with 3 x 15 min. tempo, 8 min. recovery
Week 5:
  • One weekday track workout. Suggestions include:
    • 15 minute warm-up, 3-5 x 800m with 60 seconds recovery, 15 minute cool-down
    • 15 minute warm-up, 1 x 1,600 with 90 seconds recovery, 2 x 800m with 60 seconds, 3 x 400m with 45 seconds recovery, 15 minute cool-down
  • One tempo run.
    • Either during a weekday or pas part of your long run.
Week 6:
  • One weekday track workout.
  • One tempo run.
    • Either during a weekday or as part of your long run.

A Strength Training Plan That You Just May Enjoy

Week 1:
  • Add just one strength exercise after each weekday run. It could be pushups, planks, lunges, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Aim for roughly one minute of completing the exercise.
Week 2:
  • Two exercises after each weekday run. Runner’s choice on the exercise, each lasting no more than two minutes.
Week 3:
  • Two exercises after every run. Runner’s choice on the exercise, each lasting no more than two minutes.
Week 4:
  • One day of our 7-minute routine. Stick with the two exercises after every other run.
Week 5:
  • Two days of our 7-minute routine. Stick with the two exercises after other runs.
Week 6:
  • Three days of our 7-minute routine. Option to stick with the two exercises after other runs or simplify to just three strength days per week.

Start Small and Make it Great

Now those don’t sound too bad, do they?

By the end of week six you’ll be crushing your hate in a way you may never have before. And with a little discipline, it will stick.

Hearing your stories got me fired up to do this myself, so I’ll be going through the six week speed plan starting next week.

Ready to join me?

Share your journey with #HateToGreat for additional accountability and support.

Author

Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running — beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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