Run happy isn’t just a feeling or a workout or any one particular run or race. To me, it’s a lifestyle choice. I’m not really sure if it chose me or I chose it. For as long as I can remember I loved to run. From playing tag on the playground during recess to racing at the Junior National Championships in track, to a competitive college career and beyond: “Run Happy” is testing the limits of the human spirit. It doesn’t mean that every single day feels easy – but that’s the point – out of the daily struggle comes the reward – pure bliss. Call it a runner’s high or endorphins or whatever you want to call it, but I thrive on experiencing it daily. Some days I can fly and I know that this is one thing that’s so deeply rooted in my soul that even if no one else understands why, I’ll continue to skip the snooze button on the alarm clock, lace up my favorite pair of Brooks and head out into the dusk, waiting for the magical moment of the sunrise and the sweat, welcoming in each new day. This, my friends, is when I feel most alive.
Growing up in a rural mountain town, running was an intensely personal journey for me. I wish I had an odometer of the countless mountain miles logged solo, or the number of laps around my “oval office.” Of course, these were the days before GPS watches and moisture-wicking, form fitting, brightly colored fun workout attire. Most of our cross country courses were measured by my coach in his trusty red pick-up. There wasn’t really a long-term plan laid out, you just ran every day as hard as you could, until you couldn’t any more.
These days, everything is calculated – from mileage to paces to constant daily activity trackers. Running has taken on a new meaning for me, as I continue to compete at a high level, with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Trials in the marathon. The difference is that now my lifelong passion is shared with too many other runners to name them all. From the lifelong friends I’ve had as teammates in high school and college to the clients I train with daily, to the corporate wellness groups I coach and share weekly “Runches” with, to the 1st Place Sports local racing team and Brooks Inspire Daily members, to the thousands you share the roads with in large road races each year and even now, to my social media running friends whom I’ve never actually met. Today, I am equally happy about my own PR’s as the client who has overcome breast cancer and celebrates life with a newfound love for running as the youth athlete who is just finding her stride…to the age-group athlete who has lost 40 pounds and runs a new personal best time every weekend, getting his life back. We all celebrate our accomplishments together at the local races each weekend. I believe that running is the outlet to make broken things whole again, to make old things new again, to make sweat turn into tears of joy. Running has literally taken me all over the world, and I feel grateful to have the opportunity to give back to the sport that has given me so much. Whether your goal is to line up with the best in Hopkinton or just to conquer your first 5k, it all starts with the right attitude and the right pair of running shoes…no matter your age find your “Run Happy.”
People often ask me what a typical day looks like for me, and I can’t really answer that in entirety because each week and day often look very different. Some days are more recovery focused – from easy running on softer terrain like the beach or trails, to aqua jogging or ice baths or cross training, others involve working on mechanics or strength training, while my favorite days are and have always been races and challenging track workouts. Nothings revs my engine like these days. I’d love to share my favorite workout with you and it’s a very simple one, but can be inserted anywhere in your training cycle to achieve the result that you are looking for, and really helps with training pace and consistency.
Run Happy Workout – Continuous 200’s
Continuous 200’s is one of my favorite workouts because it is ideal for practicing training pace and consistency and can be inserted anywhere into your training cycle. The goal is to pay attention not only to your “on” interval pace but especially to your “off” interval pace. The workout goes as follows:
- 1-2 mile warm-up (or longer if in marathon training)
- Running Form Drills
- Strides 8-16 x200m on/200m off (continuous)
- 1-2 mile cool-down
- Stretch/Foam Roll/Core Exercises
So, for someone currently running an 18:45 5k the workout would look like this:
- 200m “on” pace – 45 sec.
200m “off” pace – 1 min
The 200m “on” may be slightly faster than your current 5k training pace, but you really want to stay under control. I use the phrase “train, don’t strain” frequently with the athletes I coach. Just because you can go faster doesn’t mean you should. If you are feeling good and recovering quickly, you always have the option to increase the pace of your recovery interval, rather than increasing the speed of your “on” interval.
Another convenient aspect of this workout is that it can be done anywhere – the track, the treadmill or your own favorite neighborhood route by turning it into a fartlek style workout using your desired “on” and “off” interval times.
This workout tends to go by quickly! It’s very easy to get dialed into a rhythm and to train your desired race pace. Mentally, it’s broken up very nicely as well. In Florida since it’s often very hot and humid in the summer or for beginner runners new to track workouts, I’ll break this workout into sets of four, with a 2 minute water break in between sets.
This workout works no matter where you are in your training cycle and no matter the distance you are training for. I’ve completed it after an hour run during marathon training, or with the “on” interval times at 3k pace during 5k season.
No matter your skill level, this is a great workout when done properly. Grab your favorite pair of Brooks running shoes and your watch or a running partner and give this workout a try today!
About the Author
Julie Stackhouse is an experienced USA Track & Field Levels I, II and III certified coach with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Health and Exercise Science from Furman University, where she was a scholarship track and cross country athlete. She coached at Division I programs across the country collegiately for over a decade before making personal training and wellness coaching a full-time pursuit.