All too often we have to spend time on the road whether we like it (vacation) or not (work trips). But just because you travel doesn't mean you have to neglect your workouts. Below are 3 simple runs you can take on your next trip, wherever your travels take you.

The "Negative Split"

This workout is a great addition to your normal training and serves as an excellent run when you are time-crunched. Ideally, this run will be 30-60 minutes in length and should match your current fitness level and time constraints. Check out the structure below and give it a go.

  1. Warm Up: Ease into the run. You will essentially start off as you usually would for a run, easing into your most comfortable pace. The 'warm-up' serves as part of the workout.
  2. You're already into your workout once warmed up. Whether you are doing an out and back or a loop, keep your pace steady/controlled for the first 50% of the run.
  3. Once you hit halfway, turn back or kick your intensity up a notch if you're on a loop. The goal here is the second half of the run is at a faster pace than the first half; if you feel good, go hard; if you're tired, simply aim to run a slight bit stronger.
  4. Cool Down: Once you've completed your run, take a few minutes to cool down and do some light stretching.

Helpful Tips for the "Negative Split" workout:

  • Second half slower than the first? Captain Obvious says you probably went out too fast, so slow it down a little at the start next time.
  • Back half is faster than you anticipated? This is great! But if your pace varied greatly, you may have gone a bit too easy the first half; you will learn your limits with practice.
  • The Well-Balanced Routine: A really well done negative split run will find your second half in the range of 20-30 seconds faster per mile on the back half.
Kelly RunningKelly out enjoying some negative splits

The Descending Interval Set

Need to knock out a quality speed session but don't have access to a track? Descending intervals are a great workout option. This routine runs through two to three sets of 3 minutes on followed by 3 minutes off, then 2 minutes on followed by 2 minutes off, and lastly 1 minute on followed by 1 minute off. Your total workout will take between 30-60 minutes (including warm up) and your goal is to gain speed during the "on" efforts of the set as the duration decreases in time. Thus, the 2-minute effort should be faster than the 3-minute effort and the 1-minute effort even faster than the 2 minute.

  1. Warm Up: Spend about 5-15 minutes warming up with a light jog. Given that this is more of a speed workout, you can do a few 'strides' after warming up to prepare.
  2. Set Structure & Effort: A "set" is comprised of a 3, 2, and 1-minute effort with equal recovery time. Start the 3 minute effort at what feels like a pace you would hold for a mile repeat type of effort, or slightly harder than 5k race pace effort. This is roughly an 8 on a scale of 1-10. Make a mental note of what the effort felt like, or what the pace was. Recover 3 minutes then begin your 2 minute effort. Try to push your effort up to about a 9/10 while holding steady. Take the same strategy and apply it to your 1 minute effort; which can be close to a 'max' effort. Jog ~3 minutes easy between sets.
  3. Cool Down: 5-10 minutes or as time allows.
Kelly Running

Helpful tips for the Descending Interval workout:

  • The key here is getting faster as you go so err on the conservative side for the first set and then try to push it from there.
  • If you are on a time constraint, consider making these shorter, such as 2/2, 1/1, 30s/30s. You will still accomplish the same goal, albeit a quicker session.
  • If doing these over varying terrain, i.e. hills or on a trail, focus more on effort than pace and really work to improve effort on each subsequent interval.

Hill Intervals

Need to pack a lot into a 30-minute run? Or stuck in a place with hills everywhere you look? Take the opportunity to use the hills! In this routine, scout out your hill; I usually opt to start with a more gradual one, but the steeper ones work, too. You will run your intervals over the same stretch of road and time yourself for each interval. Given what is appropriate to the kind of training you've been doing, aim to do repeats in the range of 30 seconds up to 2 minutes. Again, relative to your experience, you can do as little as 4 repeats up to 8-10 of them.

  1. First Interval: Run your first interval at a pace that feels a little harder than your regular mile repeat pace. Adjust your speed to the incline of your hill. The shorter and less steep your hill, the harder you can run. Take note of the time it takes you complete the interval; note the point (use a landmark), and take an easy jog back down to your starting point. Catching your breath then walking or jogging back down easy is usually adequate recovery.
  2. Following intervals: For the remainder of your intervals, run between the same start/finish point as the first and try hard to finish each interval in the same time, or slightly faster, than your first interval. Ideally, you will get a little further as you go!
  3. Cool Down: Following the completion of your routine, jog easily for 5-10 minutes.

In summation, we all carry busy schedules and try to balance work, family, travel, and exercise. Rather than letting the exercise slip, do your best to make it happen no matter where you are. It is important to note that, even if you are stuck in a hotel (bad weather, unsafe running roads), you can take any of these to the treadmill. Something is better than nothing! Do your best to get "something" in, and these workouts will give you a bit more quality. Happy trails!

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