5 Workouts to Try
Following the same route at the same pace day in, day out works great for trains, planes, and the Postal Service van, but not for human beings trying to become faster and stronger runners. Hitting a plateau. In a rut. Running on automatic pilot. Call it what you will—it means your fitness level and fat-burning capacity have flatlined. "Automatic pilot isn't just bad for training and fat loss—it dulls your body awareness, and that can lead to injury," says Jenny Hadfield, a running coach and the coauthor of Running for Mortals. Work these rut-breaking regimens into your program, whether you're an occasional runner or a fanatical one. "Sprinkle in one or two of these," Hadfield says, "and if you run regularly, you'll lose weight faster, boost overall power and speed, and never get bored."
What it is: Not a sprint, but a pace that will leave you breathing/sweating hard.
What it does: Burns calories at a high rate, increases stamina.
How to do it: Warm up for 5 minutes, run at tempo for 20, end with a 5-minute warm-down.
The tip: "Turn down the music and focus on your breath," Hadfield says. "Also, fast runs don't mean longer strides. Try to keep stride normal."
What it is: A workout that's half incline, half regular. If you usually run 3 miles, do 1.5 on inclines. The pace is moderate.
What it does: Makes you focus on stride and body alignment; hits more muscles.
How to do it: Try to maintain the same level of effort. That means slowing down and shortening stride on the way up, and lengthening stride and speeding up (but staying in control) on the way down.
The tip: "Your eyes may need to look down, but keep the head up," Hadfield says, "or your form falls apart."
What it is: A 60-to-70 minute run after a warm-up. If you normally run 3 miles, you need to rack up 5 or 6. The pace is easy.
What it does: Burns fat and builds endurance.
How to do it: Start slower than normal.
The tip: "If you get a pang of pain somewhere, it's likely your form has eroded," Hadfield says. "Work to fix it as you continue. Never sacrifice technique for speed."
What it is: The shortest, most intense running regimen.
What it does: Delivers a killer fat-burning workout.
How to do it: Warm up, sprint (near top speed) for a minute, walk for a minute. Repeat up to 8 times. Warm down. Keep a consistent pace.
The tip: "You'd think jogging during recovery would be better," Hadfield says. "It's not. Walk. You need to recover so you can spike your heart rate on the sprint."