The new year is right around the corner! Begin 2015 on the run – shed any weight that you may have gained over the holidays, and tackle a health resolution while you’re at it. But this won’t just be any run. Take your current regime and mix it up a bit – even if you’re just beginning.

If you’re like most people you have habits. Things that you do over and over again, pretty much the same way. You may have developed exercise habits – lifting the same weights or hitting the elliptical or perhaps running the same route, at the same pace, at the same time every single day.

While the body loves rhythm and consistency, if you want to lose weight, and gain some endurance, mix it up by adding some mileage and a bit of intensity.

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This doesn’t mean that you have to run 20 miles or sprint every step. Simply increase your distance gradually, and add some bouts of intensity within a regular run. This will stoke your calorie burning engine, as well as make you feel oh.so.good! (at least when you’re done!)

Find a sample month’s schedule below, with an explanation of each workout:

Midweek training:

Training during the week should be done mostly at a comfortable, conversational pace. Don’t push too hard. Run with a friend that runs your same pace, or perhaps a bit slower. Run easy, and run relaxed! One day a week though, you’ll want to mix it up and run a bit harder. You can do this in several ways, but here are five of my favorite:

Fartlek:

A fartlek (who doesn’t love to say that word!?!?) is a Swedish term that means “speed play” and involves varying your pace as you run, alternating between fast and slow. In a fartlek workout, introduce short stints of faster pace running into your regular run. These faster segments can be time or distance based.

Sample fartlek workout: warm up for 10 minutes. 1 minute on (fast). 2 minutes off (recovery). 2 minutes on. 1 minute off. Repeat 4-5 times. Cool down for 10 minutes.

running plan_2

Stairs:

In the midst of a 3-4 mile run find a good set of stairs:
1) Sprint up them, jogging down.

2) Sprint up double steps (skipping a stair each time) and jog down.

3) Squat jump every step, or every double step, and jog down.

Repeat steps 1-3, 3-5 times.

Track:

Pyramid track workout on a 400m indoor or outdoor track: warm up ten minutes, run one lap as fast as you can. Recover one lap. Run two laps as fast as you can. Recover one lap. Run three laps as fast as you can. Recover one lap.

Run four laps as fast as you can. Recover one lap. Run three laps as fast you can. Recover one lap. Run two laps as fast as you can. Recover one lap. Run one lap as fast as you can. Cool down for ten minutes. Aim to keep the pace of each fast lap consistent

Hills:

Find a 3-4 mile run with several rolling hills, and run the hills with power. Run up them as fast as you can, recovering on the flat/down. Remember to breathe as you run the hills – fully exhaling with every breath.

Join a running group: 

Most local running stores host running groups and if you can’t find one, start one. Aim to run with people that are slightly faster than you are. This will push you out of your comfort zone, and ultimately make you faster as well!

Strength & stretch:

Stretch: Yoga, a foam roller or a mat at home will all work for stretching. Keep your body limber and flexible.

Strength: Strength training can consist of push-ups, ball work, plyometrics, workouts from a magazine, free weights at the gym (or home), using your body weight, etc. Focus on core, legs, arms and also balance.

Cross training:

One day a week cross train. Cross training is any other form of aerobic exercise that allows you to use slightly different muscles while training. You can choose any sort of activity – biking, elliptical, swimming, yoga, or even walking. Doesn’t have to be a tough work-out, simply move – and, you can choose something different each week. Mix it up and have fun – there are lots of ways to move your body. Challenge yourself!

Long runs:

One day a week run longer – six or more miles. Long runs are not meant to be fast, or particularly hard. This is all about endurance. This run is great to do with a group, or a few friends.

Rest:

Rest is a critical component of any training program. You can’t exercise well unless you are well rested. Listen to your body. Rest, and relax. And if you need to, take more than one rest day.

Sample one month running plan:

Week

MON

TUE

WED

THUR

FRI

SAT

SUN

1

rest

3-5m

fartlek

3-5m

strength & stretch

cross train

6m+

2

rest

3-5m

stairs

3-5m

strength & stretch

cross train

6m+

3

rest

3-5m

track

3-5m

strength & stretch

cross train

6m+

4

rest

3-5m

hills

3-5m

strength & stretch

cross train

6m+

To maximize results pay attention to how you fuel your body, both before and after you exercise. Breathe deep, and run well!

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