Running fast improves cadence, aerobic capacity, strength and endurance, but hard running can be a challenge. Workouts don't have to be intimidating or boring, though, and even advanced runners can stay motivated while reaching peak fitness. Whether you are designing a running program for children, yourself or for more advanced runners, running games that you can do with a partner, in a group or even alone are great ways to avoid the dread often associated with high-intensity exercise.
The Line Game
You can do the line game on a track or on roads or trails. If you opt for the roads, find a safe place away from traffic. Invite between four to eight athletes who are all close to the same fitness level to join you. After an easy warm-up, have everyone form a line, one behind the other. Keeping the line formation, run between 2 and 8 miles at a moderate pace. During the run, the person in the back of the line surges, passing the other runners until she is in the lead and can take her place at the front of the line. Once the new leader has settled back into the tempo pace, the person who is now the last runner surges to the front.
For groups of athletes, relay races are a playful way to explore competition and speed. You do traditional relays on the track while passing a baton, but in training, you can do relays on grass or trails without a baton. Have your runners split into at least two groups of four to six people. Each group then sends half of its members to line up at a designated location of 100 to 400 meters away, facing the others who are lined up at the original location. When everyone is ready, start the race with the first people in line at the original location sprinting across to their teammates. The person on the other side can begin sprinting only when the first person has reached her. Continue the relay until everyone has had a chance to run.
Prediction runs teach you about pacing. Pick a distance between 1 and 3 miles for you and a few friends to run as a time trial. Write the names of everyone in the group and their predicted times for the distance you are running next to their names. The winner isn't the person who runs the fastest but the one who runs the closest to her predicted time. The goal is to pick a time that is challenging but doable.
One of the least stressful ways to get some faster-paced running accomplished on your own or with company is to try some fartlek on pretty trails or a bike path. Fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish. The idea is to randomly pick up and then slow down your pace throughout your workout. You can run faster until you reach a certain landmark that you see ahead of you or simply run according to how you feel. A typical fartlek session should last approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
- Coaching Youth Track & Field; American Sport Education Program
- Run the Planet: Fun Running Games for Kids
- Competitor.com: Workout of the Week: Fartlek Session
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