3 Week Running Fitness Challenge

I run to eat.

I’m one of those people that push through hard training workouts and races by thinking about what I’m going to eat and drink when I reach the finish.

After the Chicago marathon I headed straight to Shake Shack for salty french fries, at the end of the New York marathon Zoe and I talked only of a fizzy drink, but after a lot of my training runs I crave something fruity. A large cold glass of Apple & Blackcurrant or Lemon squash is amazingly thirst quenching, and helps me push through that last mile or speed set so when Robinsons got in touch with me about partnering to set a January fitness challenge, I knew it was a perfect fit.

3 Week running fitness plan

I don’t think you guys in the US really have squash, (I’m not sure why) but it’s a concentrated juice drink that you add water to and Robinsons has real fruit in every drop. It’s one of the things that Zoe usually requests when I visit or send bday parcels (that, and Minstrels, Revels and Hula Hoops).

A few years ago I cut my fizzy drink habit at home and work, (although post marathon anything goes). Robinsons squash is a good way to add tasty, fruity flavour into my drinks. A bonus is that most of their products contain no added sugar and are often less than 5 calories per glass. Plus as you add 250ml water to each drink it’s a great way to consume more water. My fave flavours are the Lemon, Summer fruits and the Apple and Blackcurrant.  The Lemon and Apple & Blackcurrant come in Squash’d style, perfect for your handbag or gym bag.  Tom is more of an Orange & Pineapple, or Orange fan – although there’s always a big selection of flavours in our house. Instead of wine or beer in the evening, Tom and I drink squash – there’s even a special squash area alongside the soda stream.

3 Week running fitness plan

When the weather is cold it’s a lot easier to forget to consume the recommended 2L water per day. With their vast range of diluting drinks, created to add to water, Robinsons are encouraging us to drink more water this January – and help kick start your 2017 fitness/running goals.

I wrote about my NEW PLAN to improve my own running, so thought it would be fun to set you guys a challenge to work on with me this Jan. Whether you’re a beginner runner, increasing your distance this year, wanting to speed up or an experienced runner who neglects the cross training side of things, why not join me for the next 3 weeks and see what improvements we can make…

Robinsons January Fitness Running Plan

I’ve used time instead of distance for the runs this is so that it’s a plan that can fit most running levels. The point of the easy run is to be able to chat (or sing) while you run, and should be building aerobic fitness. It’s a fun, enjoyable run that allows you to recover whilst gaining cardio benefits and shouldn’t be done at a pace that feels hard – if you need to take walking breaks or adopt a run/walk strategy then that’s absolutely fine!

3 Week running fitness plan

Monday – Run easy as explained above, then follow with this arm and core workout. You don’t need any equipment so it’s the perfect sitting room/garden post-run workout! I’ve linked to all the exercises below if there are any that you’re not sure about.

(side plank, single leg Romanian dead lift with reach, plank ups, inchworms, window wipers, press ups, KB deadbugs, plank taps, pallof press, tricep dips)  

Tuesday – To run faster, you have to run faster. Simple. Complete the same arms and abs workout when you’ve finished your run for a full body workout.

WEEK 1 – This should feel tough but doable, the repeats should be between 1-2 min mile pace faster than your easy run pace.

10 min warm up (easy pace)

6 x 2 mins fast paced with 1 min jogging recovery between

10 min cool down (easy pace)

WEEK 2 – The 200m repeats should be done at a fast pace, about 2 min mile pace faster than your easy paced runs.

15 min warm up (easy pace)

10 x 200m FAST with 200m walking recoveries between

2 min complete rest

1 X 800m FAST (but at a pace you can hold)

10 min cool down (easy pace)

WEEK 3 –  These 800m repeats (Yasso 800s) are great for increasing speed over time, you can build up to include more repeats as you speed and endurance improve. Make sure you’re running these fast enough that they feel hard (or you feel just a little vommy) but are able to hold the pace for the entire 800m/0.5 mile repeat.

10 min warm up 

4 x 1 min FAST with 1 min recovery walk between 

3 x 800m fast paced with 2-3 min walking recoveries

4 x 1 min FAST with 1 min recovery walk between 

10 min cool down 

Don’t forget to hydrate properly before and after your speed workout to ensure you perform at your  best and recover quickly. I like to put a 500ml bottle of pre-mixed squash in the fridge while I run so that I can drink it after as I shower and get ready for the day.

Wednesday – Is there a local yoga class that you love, or an online program that you use? I don’t love yoga however I know it’s so good for both your body and your mind that I’m challenging myself to make it a weekly addition to my plan in 2017. If you can’t make it to a class, try JasYoga or Yoga with Adriene for great online routines.

3 Week running fitness plan

Thursday– Hill running works in much the same way as speed work, increasing your heart rate, leg turnover and gets the arms pumping. If you don’t live near any hills, feel free to do this on a treadmill with the incline cranked up.

After a 10 min warm up, find a hill about 200m in length about a 3% gradient, (or set the treadmill to 4-6%) and complete 6 x 200m sprint repeats, jogging back down the hill as recovery (or jogging on a flat treadmill). Build up your reps each week, adding 2 more repeats. 

Friday– A day off from running, however it’s time to strengthen those legs. This workout doesn’t require any equipment although you could add weights to the sumo squats and lunges. I’ve linked below to all the moves incase there are any that you’re not sure about.

(High knees, burpees, side plank, reverse lunges, inchworms, jump squats, window wipers, side lunges, curtsy lungespallof press, sumo squat)  

Saturday– This is your LSR (long slow run) – since this plan is designed for a number of levels, if you’re coming off a high mileage base, feel free to increase this to 7 miles + – whatever feels right for you. You want it to be a challenge however shouldn’t be more than a 10% increase in distance than you’re used to running.

3 Week running fitness plan

Sunday – Recovery is just as crucial as the hard work you’ve put in throughout the week. Use your Sunday to sleep, rest and meal prep for the following week. Don’t ignore your nutrition during Jan – eat real, whole foods and limit your reliance on convenience foods by spending a few hours at the start of the week to cook in bulk – chillies, salads, soups and stews can all be made in advance and frozen or chilled to eat when you need. Making a range of healthy snacks to fill your cupboards/bag/drawer should help you avoid reaching for a 4pm chocolate bar or pack of crisps. Don’t forget to stock the fridge with some pre-made squash mixes for deliciously cold post workout refreshment.

3 Comments

  1. January 9, 2017 / 7:50 pm

    I wonder why Americans don’t really have squash?! I’d never thought about it before. I guess they have more fizzy drinks than we do in the UK? I’m not a massive squash fan to be honest. I usually crave milk following a run. Vanilla milkshakes are my special treat after long marathon training runs! 😉

    I’m trying to get back into a bit of core work now that I’m no longer pregnant, so have pinned your arm and core workout to try. Thanks for including the youtube links underneath as well. I had no idea what an inchworm was!

  2. January 10, 2017 / 1:20 pm

    I actually don’t think I could function without squash…I don’t drink tea or coffee so I am also a MASSIVE fan of hot squash in the winter! Can’t quite get over the fact they don’t really have in in the US, no wonder Zoe requests it!

  3. January 11, 2017 / 1:14 pm

    I can confirm after a few embarrassing super markets visits where they though I was looking for butternut squash that it does not exist! Very odd really as there’s not a healthy alternative…. Robinson’s should break America! X

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