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March 21, 2012 9:43 AM   Subscribe

Conditioning, Stamina, Endurance...5k in 30 days!

OMG I have just over a month until my 3rd 5k Mud Run and since the fall I've really fallen off the exercise wagon. Not to imply I've previously been Mr. Fitness but I did successfully run in the fall (the entire time mind you) my last 5k mud run, albeit at a slow pace, but I did it!

I'm not looking for a magic wand (and fully embrace that non exists), so can you share exercises/tips that would help with Conditioning, Stamina, and Endurance?

I feel "strong," but I get winded relatively easily so that is why I'm looking for tips and exercises more geared towards Conditioning, Stamina, and Endurance.

213 lbs (certainly working on that)
I can run a mile on a treadmill but yesterday on the street I had to stop 4 times and the top of my foot is sore (the top where ankle meets the leg)
I take a multivitamin pack daily and also fish oil
eating habits...meh, I'm not the best but am working on it (I may have 1-2 sodas a week, only water, and no alcohol)

I'm looking for specific exercises and tips, not just "do a tabata" - I'd like to know what makes up the tabata, its time; or something like run 3 minutes and do 10 burpees - repeat 10 times...

Again, I'm not expecting to transform myself in 30 days but would like to make the most this time with suggestions from all of you smart, strong, well conditioned, healthy people. I also have 2 more mud races later this year so this will be get me off on the right foot. Thanks!!!
posted by doorsfan to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have always been told and believe in the fact that running stairs will make you stronger, faster and much more able to handle endurance running. My brothers who do triathlons and marathons are big believers.

I'm not much of a runner anymore, but that's what I'd do. The link has a specific workout.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:50 AM on March 21, 2012

My trainer had me doing tabatas of running full out for one minute (on a track, not the treadmill), then walking a minute, repeated four times. As I got better he would up the full out sprint to a minute and a half.

This helped me develop a sense that I could run harder and faster then I ever normally would.

If I were you, I'd mix that (once or twice a week) in with outside run/walks. You'll probably find that the first few outside run/walks are hard on the joints and wind, but that you'll see marked improvement in the first two weeks.

Stairs are also a great idea for getting your cardio amped up.

One last thing I did with my trainer that I felt helped a lot was trying one run a week (or so) on the treadmill at a slightly faster pace than I was comfortable at, for as long as I could go. That got me out of my "slow and steady" rut, and I ran faster outside after that, too.

Enjoy your race! You'll be amazed to see how fast you can get back to it.
posted by ldthomps at 10:10 AM on March 21, 2012

I've done a few mud runs finishing in the top 5% and a lot of high altitude winter mountaineering (think 8-10 hour days, nonstop with a 30-60lb pack above 15,000ft) all at a high level without ever doing long distance running to train.

I follow Jim Wendler's 5\3\1 lifting protocol on a 4aweek and try to move all the weights explosively. I'll sprint hills every once in awhile, usually after lifting. I walk around for hours with a heavy pack on.

Everything I mentioned above will help with the weight loss too.

If I had 30 days and was in your position. My eating habits is what I would concentrate on the most. If you were 20lbs lighter in 30 days that would do far more than any training you could accomplish in that time frame. Doing both at the same time though and you'll feel like a whole new person.

Set aside an hour every day to walk this month too. That will be in addition to whatever training you decide to do.
posted by zephyr_words at 10:10 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you're looking for couch to 5k (related links). That program is geared more toward a two-month period, but you should be able to adapt as your previous training comes back to you.
posted by zachlipton at 10:14 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're not able to run 5K continuously right now, I would suggest doing an abbreviated version of Couch to 5K. It is an 8 week program normally, but you don't have to start at week 1 if you can run a continuous mile. If you start at week 3 or 4 you should be able to get to where you can finish a 5K in 30 days.

Intervals/tabatas/sprints/etc can help to some extend, but they can only do so much if you don't have good aerobic conditioning. The 5K is something like 95% aerobic, so spend most of your time training your aerobic system (running at a pace you can sustain) rather than your anaerobic system (with very short fast stuff).
posted by matcha action at 10:15 AM on March 21, 2012

Fartlek runs - where you run at a pace that you can sustain normally, interspersed with sections when you run at or exeeding race pace - are a great training tool.

Longer intervals - on the order of 800m to 1 mile, with the same time taken for rest, are another great tool.

Getting off the treadmill and onto the street or trail will help you mentally, since much of the challenge of the 'mud runs' is the variegated terrain. A treadmill doesn't have that.

Core stability will help as well. Planks and squats are my favorite core exercises, and ExRx has many, many exercises.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:29 AM on March 21, 2012

Learn pacing. Everytime I'm back running after being out for a bit, I find it really hard to cover a distance that is relatively short because I tend to go faster than what I'm ready for. Once the pacing is regained, distance is not a problem (albeit at a slower pace).

You mentioned being able to run a mile on the treadmill but having issues on the street. It suggests to me you are still unable to pace yourself.

Either do the talk test while you run or get yourself a heart rate monitor.
posted by 7life at 10:35 AM on March 21, 2012

Work on your aerobic base, e.g. jogging @ heart rate 130-150bpm. If you cannot comfortably keep your feet moving for 30 minutes straight, you have no business doing any kind of speed work or anaerobic exercise in general, as it will only disproportionately deplete your recovery capabilities for the sake of minimal adaptations to the energy system you'll be relying on to finish the race.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:27 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding core stability conditioning with planks and squats. And, if you're in it for the long haul--hoping to progress to further distances, like 10k and beyond--by all means, invest in a gym membership and begin a weight lifting program.

Weight lifting won't make you faster. It won't make you a better runner. It won't make you look ripped like Ronnie on Jersey Shore (unless you're friends with Ronnie's juice pusher).

In fact, it won't help in the slightest with the conditioning issues you mention in your post (and my mentioning it is kinda off-topic, so apologies in advance).

What it will do, however, is protect against injuries if you plan on running indefinitely, rather than attempting a few 5ks and stopping for good.

When I started running, I ramped up from 5k runs to 15 milers within the space of a few months. And, I sustained bad injuries. As in, limp-five-miles-to-the-car bad. My muscles weren't ready for the stress of high mileage on asphalt.

If you're committed, hit the weight pile at the gym, and hit it with a serious intent. Work out all muscles--calfs, quads, core, bis, tris, pecs, traps, the works. Each of these is muscles is involved in running, and each can be injured. On runs. Yes, even arm and neck muscles can be subject to pain, though not as extreme as quads and calfs, of course. And running injuries, as most runners know, tend to linger.

Start the weight routine now, and give it top priority. With any luck, you'll find that the pain at the top of your ankle gradually diminishes, as the foot, calf and achilles tendon grow stronger. And the weight lifting will act as a prophylactic against future injuries.

I learned this the hard way.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:43 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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