As a coach, I believe that training should be enjoyable. After all, almost all of us kept running – versus another form of cardio exercise – because we found joy in some aspect of it. Yet many of us recreational and amateur runners tend to be highly disciplined and we sometimes lose sight of having fun even in our hard workouts.
The birthday workout can serve as a yearly reminder that running – including running hard – is something we do for fun. Whether you are training for a goal race or simply running for fitness, a workout that is unique to you and your birthday interjects a sense of celebration and joy into your normal routine.
For most adult runners, running the number of miles for your age is rather unrealistic – since this equates to essentially an ultra marathon once you’re past the young age of 26. (But if that’s what you enjoy, more power to you!). You could do minutes instead, or, if you wanted to celebrate your birthday with a harder workout, try one of the following birthday workouts:
The Birthday Fartlek
Fartleks are “speed play” workouts, with prescriptions of time (at least, for structured fartleks) and effort rather than distance and pace. You can run the hard intervals as hard as you want, making fartleks a fun and flexible approach to interval training. For a birthday fartlek, take the first number of your age as the number of intervals and the second number of your age as the number of minutes of faster running. For example: On my 29th birthday, I ran 2 x 9 minutes at a harder effort in the middle of my run.
This option has a lot of flexibility, as you can adapt the intensity for your training plan. This means you can do a hard, gut-busting workout if you want, or an effort that interjects some fast running into your workout without rendering you tired for the day’s celebrations. Obviously, there are ages less conducive to it – such as 20, 30, 40. But for most birthdays, you can sprinkle in some faster running to make your birthday run more memorable.
The Birthday Tempo Run
A tempo run is broadly defined as a comfortably hard effort lasting 20-60 minutes in duration. For a birthday tempo run, simply translate your age in years to the duration in minutes of the tempo run – such as a 35 minute tempo run on your 35th birthday. This birthday run works especially well if you are in the middle of a training cycle, since tempo runs are effective for distances from the 5K to ultras.
The Birthday Long Run
Are long runs your favorite type of run? If you are currently training for a marathon or ultra, you can do a metric twist on your age for your long run. One kilometer is ~0.62 miles, so the distance is more manageable for most runners. For example, 25 kilometers is roughly 15.5 miles and 30 km is approximately 18 miles.
Linking up with Coaches’ Corner!
Have you ever done a special run for your birthday?