20-Minute Speed Play
This week’s cardio comes to you from Leigh Gerson, NASM-CPT, USATF, Level I Track & Field Coach and trainer SoHo Strength Lab.
An Ivy League drop out, Leigh came to fitness through a desire to increase running performance, a hobby she discovered she had a true talent for. She’s racked up a title for herself here and there, mastering races of all distances, short and long, even creating her own race: the first all-female ultra relay from Manhattan to Montauk. In her coaching, Leigh takes a holistic approach to training and wellness, believing strength and fitness are longevity practices. She aims to teach her athletes to perform at their best both safely and efficiently.
No big deal, but she’s been the female winner of:
- New Jersey Half Marathon, 2x
- OSR Midnight Half mMarathon, 2x
- OSR Women’s 10k
- Poland Spring NYRR 5m
- Inaugural Harlem Mile
- Queens 5k
- 2nd place finisher at the Tamarindo Half Marathon in Costa Rica, 2x
- 3rd place TNFEC Bear Mountain 50k 2014
Leigh is the first to admit that training to get faster can often feel intimidating. One of her favorite ways to break into faster speeds while keeping her run manageable is with Fartlek (Swedish for “speed play”). This type of workout alternates intervals of hard running with a more relaxed pace that should be adjusted depending on your level. The beautiful thing about Fartlek is that it can be scaled to lower intensities for beginners, and amped up to very challenging paces for elite runners.
So even though this workout is designed to help improve your speed over longer distances, to really maximize you results, Leigh suggests keeping the real workout (warm up and cool down aside) to 20 minutes. Trust us, if you’re really hitting your highest level of exertion, 20 minutes will be plenty. See for yourself:
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
A good attitude (and a good pair of running shoes)! While this is technically a timed workout, Leigh stresses that you don’t have to forgo this type of training just because you left your watch or phone timer behind – you can simply pick an object far off in the distance, run to it, then pick an object a little closer and jog to it for the recovery.
A GUIDE THROUGH THE WARM UP
Check out these moves Leigh swears by to fire up the glutes and activate the core before she begins her warm up jog:
1. Bridge Marching x 20 each side
SET UP: Lay flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Press through your feet to lift your hips off of the floor. Keeping your core and glutes fired up, press into your right foot and march your left foot off the ground without letting your hips shift. Replace your left foot and do the same with your right. Repeat.
AVOID: Try to lift your hips so that the rib cage is still on the ground – it’s easy to get excited and lift so high that you’re putting pressure in your neck and shoulders. The real test here is to activate your core and glute’s ability to hold your hips level as you march, so watch for hips dropping and correct it!
MODIFY: If marching is too intense, you can always simply hold the bridge for 5-10 seconds at a time, or lift and drop the hips (just make sure to avoid arching you back in this case).
2. Bird-dogs x 20 each side
PRO TIPS: Set yourself up on all-fours with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees. Exhale, pulling your core tight to find a neutral spine. Simultaneously send your right arm forward and left leg long back behind you off of the ground, creating a contralateral movement that will heavily rely on core strength and stability.
AVOID: The goal is to only move your opposite arm and leg while keeping everything else steady, so watch out for shifting hips and shoulders.
MODIFY: If you’ve got cranky wrists, you can always modify by lowering to your elbows.
Between her intense training sessions, teaching classes, and coaching clients all day, Leigh has to make sure she’s nourishing her body correctly to repair, recharge, and be ready for anything. She uses Promix BCAA Powder to kickstart recovery during intense runs and training sessions. A vegetarian athlete, she relies on Promix USDA Certified 100% Organic Pea Protein Isolate to keep plant-based protein running strong to her muscles. She’s also been known to make some pretty gorgeous #smoothiebowls utilizing Promix Peanut Butter Protein Powder to enrich flavor and keep the nutrient density high. Follow her instagram stories for inspiration, and be sure to check out our recipes page – no doubt her creations are up and waiting for you to give them a try!
Want to add more interval runs to your repertoire? Check back in on out workouts page for additional tips from top trainers and Promix Athletes, and make sure to refuel with the elite level nutrition that every athlete deserves. Promix is proud to serve athletes of all levels the quality natual protein powder, nutritional supplements, and safe performance enhancers they need to support their training.
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Now find your stride!