Running Science is big on strength training: whole body to start, then moving to more running specific and explosive drills. Strength is always a good thing, but drills like this are great for an old(ish) runner like myself because they combat the tendency to lose muscle with age and also help prevent injuries (like the one I’m recovering from now, hopefully).
The book has two straight strength sessions (and really, let me here again suggest you go get the book yourself!), but in the 5k section there’s a circuit session that is combined with intervals. Unfortunately, that plan is built around a track (i.e., do a 400, do three exercises, do another 400, etc), and I just don’t want to go to a track; I want to run in the park near my house. Plus, the park has those little fitness stations.
So this post is going to be about turning a highly organized and scientifically proven circuit training plan into something I can do at the fitness stations in my park, situated on a .7 mile trail, and likely designed by a city worker during the lunch hour.
And before I start, let me say the book’s plan would be a bruising workout. For instance, there is no recovery time at all—or rather, the recovery time from running is spent doing the strength circuit, and the recovery from the circuit exercises is spent running. So I’m going to have to tone it down, I can tell already.
As I see it, the big issue is how to fit in the 400s. If I run a 400, I’ll miss half the stations. If I hit each of the stations in turn, I’ll never run much more than about 100-200 meters at a time. And there’s no way I’m running a full lap, almost 1200m, between each station. For the moment, I’ll just have to settle for running from station to station.
So my first try—a “still-recovering-from-injury-and-also-still-not-in-shape-for-this-circuit-thing” try— should go something like this.
- 2.5 mile warmup
- 400m at current 5k race pace (about 98 seconds, or 6:30/mile right now)
- Then do each station below, running at 5k pace between them (a total of .7 miles)
- Push ups (15)
- Chin ups (5ish) (man I hate chin ups)
- Monkey bars (I’m going to skip this one for another few weeks while my shoulder heals)
- Pogo hop (short quick straight-leg hop, driven by ankles)
- This isn’t a station, but I’ll do it instead of the silly ladder-climb thing they have
- Sit ups (with Russian Twist) (20?)
- Leg lifts (laying on back – ab exercise) (15 each leg)
- Leg lifts (standing – quad/hip exercise) (15 each leg)
- Step ups (15 each leg)
- High Lunge (10 each leg)
- Hop over low bar (12)
- Jump up to high bar (15)
- Run one lap (.7 miles)
- And then… another???
- Cool down run – 1.5 miles
I’m missing one-legged squats and bench dips from the book plan, so I’ll have to work those in later
And a day later, the results:
I made it around. Once. Or, phrased more positively, I made it through steps 1-13, plus step 15. Also, I’m still slow from the injury so I didn’t hit 5k race pace.
All in all, it is absolutely astounding how tiring these exercises are! I always thought runners were the only ones panting with exhaustion after a workout, but how wrong I was! Going straight from one station into a fast run… Wow. This is an oxygen intensive session! I was probably breathing a bit harder after my 30/20/10 sprint session, but then again I had to cut this circuit round short with the injury.
On the bright side, I’ve got plenty of room for improvement.