Training

Workout of the Week: The Short Circuit

Want to work on your weaknesses this off-season? This session rolls speed, stamina and strength all into one workout!

Want to work on your weaknesses this off-season? This session rolls speed, stamina and strength all into one workout!

For many runners, the winter off-season is a great time of year to take a step back from serious, structured training for a couple months in order to recharge and work on your weaknesses.

And in order to make improvements over the off-season, we know it’s important to work on the elements of stamina, speed and strength, but where the issue often arises for many age-group runners is in finding the time to appropriately address all three of these things over course of a given week of training.

One of my favorite solutions to this problem is a little doozy of a workout I call the Short Circuit. During a time of year when race-specific workouts are de-emphasized in favor of rebuilding your aerobic base for the competitive season ahead, performing this circuit-style workout 1-2 times a week ensures that you’re not neglecting the speed and strength components of a well-rounded off-season training program. And on top of all that, it’s a lot of fun!

This workout requires a small amount of logistical work, so before you get started you’ll need to scope out a nearby track facility (indoor or outdoor) or a quiet stretch of road or trail in close proximity to field or open area (in order to perform some of the ancillary exercises involved). For those of you tied to your treadmill this winter, an indoor setup will work for this workout too. Lastly, you’ll also need a basic watch (or your smartphone or tablet) that has a chronograph or timer setting on it.

One set of the Short Circuit workout leaves you with 8 minutes of quality running and 3 to 4 minutes of total body strength work. I suggest starting with one set and gradually building up to two over the course of 2-4 weeks. Do this workout 1-2 times a week over the course of your 6-8 week off-season period, giving yourself 2-3 days between sessions. You’ll head into the spring racing season stronger and faster than ever before!

Here’s how to do it:

Warmup

Jog for 10-15 minutes and follow with 1-2 sets of form drills and 4-6 x 20-second strides at 5K effort.

The Workout

— Begin with 10 standard pushups and immediately follow with a 30-second sprint at 90 percent of max effort. Note: Focus on maintaining good form during both of these exercises.
— Jog slowly back to where you did the pushups and then assume a front plank position for 30 seconds.
— Follow front plank with with 1 minute of slow, easy jogging, then immediately transition into 1 minute of running at 5K race effort.
— Jog slowly back to where you did the plank and then perform 10 reverse dips on a chair or bench.
— Immediately follow the reverse dips with a 30-second sprint at 90 percent of max effort. Note: Your arms will be tired, but use them!
— Jog slowly back to where you did the reverse dips and then assume a plank position on the right side for 30 seconds. Repeat exercise for 30 seconds on the left side.
— Take 45 seconds standing recovery, then run for 5 minutes (2:30 out, 2:30 back) at 10K to half-marathon race effort.
— Take 1 minute standing/walking recovery after your 5-minute running effort.
Perform as many burpees as possible in 30 seconds.
— Take 1 minute standing/walking recovery after the burpees and finish with 1 minute of fast, but relaxed running at 5K race pace. If you want to simulate kicking at the end of a race, try sprinting the final 15 to 20 seconds.

Wiped? You should be!

Cooldown

Jog for 10-15 minutes followed by 10 minutes of static stretching exercises.