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Home / Workout of the Day: Wave Training for Runners

Workout of the Day: Wave Training for Runners

Wave training is a weight lifting technique involving alternating sets of low repetition training with sets of higher reps.

We can apply the same principle to our outdoor fitness conditioning workouts as way to shock our muscles beyond their present level of adaptation and break through any training plateaus.  

In conditioning, this relates closely to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). However, there are many ways to implement a HIIT workout.

We could implement this workout on flat terrain, on a hill or on stairs. Some ideas follow:
 

We could train like a sine wave where we do equal amounts of intervals and rest periods.

So, during a longer run we might implement the following strategy:

5 mins easy
5 mins hard
5 mins easy
5 mins hard
x Keep repeating for time

You can adjust the interval lengths to suit your needs.


Another method we could employ is where training can wave up and retrace slightly like a bull run in the stock market.

The premise involves a series of waves that become progressively harder. The ramping system is implemented to progressively excite the nervous system.

For example, in strength training an example workout may look like:

8 reps of 300 lbs.
6 reps of 320 lbs.
4 reps of 340 lbs.

Rest Period

8 reps of 305 lbs.
6 reps of 325 lbs.
4 reps of 345 lbs.

Rest Period

8 reps of 310 lbs.
6 reps of 335 lbs.
4 reps of 355 lbs.


For running, we could run three sets of three intervals which become progressively harder:

30 secs hard with 30 secs rest
45 secs hard with 30 secs rest
60 secs hard with 3 minutes rest

45 secs hard with 30 secs rest
60 secs hard with 30 secs rest
75 secs hard with 3 minutes rest

60 secs hard with 30 secs rest
75 secs hard with 30 secs rest
90 secs hard 

If the session is too hard, we could increase the rest period between each effort and or reduce the duration of the interval.


Another idea for ramping is based on effort intensity:

60 secs at 70% max HR (heart rate) 30 secs rest
45 secs at 80% max HR 30 secs rest
30 secs at 90-100% max HR with 3 minutes rest

75 secs at 70% max HR 30 secs rest
60 secs at 80% max HR 30 secs rest
45 secs at 90-100% max HR with 3 minutes rest

90 secs at 70% max HR 30 secs rest
75 secs at 80% max HR 30 secs rest
60 secs at 90-100% max HR

The first interval should feel like the pace you would run for a mile, the second the pace you’d run for 400m and the third interval the pace you’d run for 200 meters.


A further option is rapid wave loading, where the waves spike a lot more.

For example, in weight-lighting:

6 reps of 320 lb.
1 rep of 360 lb.
6 reps of 325 lb.
1 rep of 365 lb.

For running on the flat, we could do:

60 secs at 10km pace
10 secs at 400m pace

Rest 4 minutes

60 secs at 5km pace
10 secs at 200m pace

Rest 4 minutes

60 secs at 1-mile pace
10 secs at 100m pace

A stair work-out might look like:

10 floors at easy effort
3 floors at max effort

Rest 4 minutes

12 floors at at easy effort
4 floors at max effort

Rest 4 minutes

14 floors at at easy effort
5 floors at max effort
 

Construct your workout however you feel appropriate for your level of fitness and experience. Remember to warm up and warm down before engaging in any high intensity interval workouts.