But targeted workouts geared toward your fitness goals—training for a marathon, growing faster, getting fitter—make a world of a difference.
To help you become more methodical with your runs, we asked Gena Bradshaw, P.T., an assistant track and field coach and Life Time Fitness trainer, to suggest five training mainstays every runner should have in his workout regimen. Each workout is designed to train a different energy system to help you improve endurance, speed, and power. Plus, there's a prescription for runners who are just starting out, and those who are more experienced.
Before each workout, though, remember to start with a dynamic warmup. "Warmups minimize your risk of injury, increase heart rate, raise blood flow to your muscles, and help you burn more calories mid-workout," Bradshaw says.
Go for a comfortable 5- to 8-minute jog, then complete these drills to neurologically prime your body for your workout. Mark 20 yards. Focus on nailing the proper form for each drill, and increasing your speed as you progress.
- Walking lunges
- Knee hugs
- Ankle pulls
- High knees
- Butt kicks
- Straight-leg kicks
- Lateral shuffle
Also, make sure you cool down post-workout. Jog to flush the lactic acid out of your legs, and stretch while your muscles are still warm. Foam rolling will also help reduce soreness, and keep your muscles from getting knotted.
Ready to hit the ground running? Give these running workouts a try.