In the morning, I often exercise around stunning Sydney Harbour, and I see familiar faces walking to work or the gym. And folks doing the same morning jog day after day, year after year. I don't know how they manage the consistently mundane, as a daily long-distance jog through the same place seems a little monotonous.
Sure, runners are slim. Runners can eat whatever they want without putting on weight. But if they don't change it up, their bodies also stay the same.
Here's how to add some power into the "same old run":
Make it a biathlon
Check out the bodies of our Aussie swimmers. Great shoulders, chests, and abs. So, cut your long jog in half, and finish at the local pool for a quick change and swim. The upper body will benefit, and a sweaty run followed by a dip in the water multiplies that exercise feel-good-factor.
Pack your car for a weights session
All it takes for an outdoor gym is a few dumbbells and a kettlebell. Go for a drive, jog through a new neighbourhood, then end the session with a few weights stored in the boot.
After a 30 minute run, perform 3-5 rounds of (40 seconds on 20 seconds of rest): max reps kettlebell swings, sit ups, push ups, and bicep curl into a squat thruster. You'll build strength and a better body in the short-to-medium term.
Hit the stairs
That cruisy run at 8-10 kilometre per hour is easy. But it's not enough. Turn up the intensity by running some stairs (or hills). Changing the angle changes the exercise, and running the stairs calls for more glute, quad, and calf activation than a standard, upright run.
Carry a backpack
"Rucking" is nothing new, because the military has carried rucksacks with serious weight for years. Turn a jog into a weighted walking session by putting some evenly distributed weight in a backpack then heading outside. Rucking benefits the heart, core, and back health, and some estimate rucking burns three times as many calories as a normal walk.
Hit the trails
With an ever-changing surface - sometimes soft, hard, or even angled - trail running requires much more from the body and mind than a session on the pavement. When you hit the trails, your core, mind, and stability must all be in sync. The result is an increased cardio engine along with muscular strength and a body that burns more calories than the standard road run.
Jog to the park for upper body work
Most parks have an outdoor gym, and all it takes is a pull-up bar to smash out a session from the waist up. After a 30 minute run, perform 10 pull ups, 15 sit ups, 20 push ups, 15 leg extensions, 10 burpees, then a max plank hold. After three rounds of that, your upper body will be humming, tight, and toned.
Stop for Tabata sessions
Mix up a long jog with varied Tabata sessions. If you jog for an hour, move dynamically every 15 minutes with 20 seconds of activity, 10 seconds of rest – totalling four minutes. Make it a well-rounded session with:
- Tabata one: Squats, push ups.
- Tabata two: Push ups, sit ups.
- Tabata three: Lunges, side planks.
- Tabata four: Squats, burpees.
- Finish with a HIIT session
Become a stronger runner with sprints. At the end of a jog, perform a 100 metre sprint at maximum effort, then drop for 10 push ups, 10 sit ups, then walk back to the starting point. Repeat until 10 circuits are completed.
Get involved with strength training
Science shows that strength training aids in becoming better runners. Three groups performing different training regimes (strength only, endurance only, endurance and strength) were monitored over a 12 week period, and the endurance and strength group had undoubtedly the biggest improvement.
Added bonus, strength training results in lesser running injuries.
Add cross-training to the treadmill jog
Mick Taouk is one of Sydney's elite personal trainers, and years ago, he introduced me to a circuit that changed my treadmill sessions forever. That session is a simple 400m row, 20 burpees, 400m sprint – four rounds, timed at 100% effort.
You will swear. You will sweat. You will realise your normal treadmill jog pales in comparison to this three-movement circuit.
Ultimately, I won't bust the chops of those that lace 'em up and hit the pavement day after day because hey – they're out there doing a healthy thing.
But "nothing changes if nothing changes," and mixing it up can turn runners into structurally sound individuals while crossing the finish line with speedier times on the clock.
Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his "Cut The BS" diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.
How do you maximise your morning run? Share your tips in the comments section below.