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By Maria Dalzot, MS, RDN, CDN

Certified Nutritionist (CN), Registered Dietitian (RD)

Wed Oct 16, 2019

couple running together

My husband and I love to run workouts together. Over the years we have had to adjust to being different fitness levels and get creative in order to keep running together. The following are three trail workouts that you can do with a partner that is slower or faster than you, along with some examples that you can use to help decide what is best for you and your partner.

LOOP TEMPO (FASTER)/INTERVALS (SLOWER)

This workout is done on a loop that could be a paved or unpaved bike path or a trail loop. In Bellingham we have a nice unpaved 2.6-mile path around Lake Padden that is flat on one side and rolling on the other. In this situation, if the faster runner can run a 5-mile tempo at 8:00-min pace, determine how long your partner can run 8:00-min pace. Let’s say it is 1 mile. The faster runner will run a lap around this loop in a little over 20 minutes. The slower partner can start with the faster runner for their first mile in 8:00, stop and take a 2-minute rest while the faster runner continues the tempo. Slower partner can then run that same mile back to the start on their own, rest 2 minutes until their partner comes back around start their 3rd mile. The workout for the slower partner becomes 4 x 1 mile with 2:00 rest.

Example – 5-mile tempo/Mile repeats

0:00- Faster partner starts 5-mile tempo, slower partner starts mile

8:00 – Both hit the mile, slower partner begins 2-minute rest

10:00 – Slower partner runs 2nd mile back to start

18:00 – Slower partner completes 2nd mile and begins 2-minute rest

20:00 – Faster runner completes first lap and partner starts 3rd mile repeat

28:00 – Both hit the mile, faster partner continues, slower partner begins 2-minute rest

30:00 – Slower partner begins 4th mile back to start

38:00 – Slower partner completes 4th mile

40:00 – Faster completes the 5-mile tempo at 8:00-min pace

LONG INTERVALS (FASTER)/TRAIL TEMPO (SLOWER)

This is a true trail run workout. Tad and I have done this in the past on the middle 10 miles of the Fragrance Lake Trail Half Marathon course. We split the course into 5 x 2ish mile sections. We go by landmarks so one section might be 2.4 miles and one might be 1.6 miles. The key, as with most workouts, is effort. The slower partner will be doing a long 10-mile tempo run. The faster partner will run each section at a hard effort and then jog until your partner arrives. I generally like 2-3 minutes rest for most longer intervals so if you find the rest is closer to 4 or 5 minutes, you can always run a minute past the landmark and jog back to meet your partner for the start of the next section.

Example – 5 x 2 miles/10-mile tempo

1. Start the workout together; faster partner immediately pulls ahead

2. Faster partner arrives at 2-miles landmark and jogs back until the slower partner passes, turns and begins the 2nd interval once back to the landmark

3. Slower partner continues with 10-mile tempo

HILL UP DOWNS

This is an uphill workout you can do together at different paces. I don’t like strict hill repeats, i.e. up and back down to same starting point because the rest is always too long, i.e. 6 x 3-minute hills means around 3-minutes recovery which is too long. This is a variation with less rest and requires a hill that climbs for 2-3 miles. Here in Bellingham, the Fragrance Lake Trail to Fragrance Lake Road to the top of Cleator is perfect.

One of my favorites for Hill Up Downs is 1 x 5 minutes, 2 x 4, 3 x 3, 4 x 2, 5 x 1 with 1-minute recovery. You and your partner start together and over the 5 minutes the faster runner will get ahead. At 5-minutes, the slower runner stops for a standing rest of 1 minute and the faster runner turns at 5 minutes and jogs a minute back down, passing the slower runner. At 6 minutes the faster runner turns and starts the 4 minutes up hill and the slower run starts the 4 minutes further up the hill from their standing rest. Now the slower runner will get a head start and the faster runner will get to catch the slower runner.

 Example 1

 0:00 – You both start the 5 minutes up hill

 5:00 – You finish interval and jog back down, partner finishes interval and begins standing rest

 6:00 – You’ve jogged back down past your standing partner and you immediately turn and start the 4:00 up hill, partner starts the 4:00 up hill

 10:00 – You’ve passed your partner, finish interval and jog back down, partner finishes interval and begins standing rest

 11:00 – You’ve jogged back down past your standing partner and you immediately turn and start the 4:00 up hill, partner starts the 4:00 up hill

 … Continue workout

Because the intervals get shorter, you’ll gain less and less time on your partner so if you continue to jog past your partner for 1:00 on the recovery you may get too far behind to catch them. In that case, jog 50 seconds and stand for 10 seconds for the 4:00, jog 40 seconds and stand for 20 for the 3:00, etc. Don’t worry about it being too exact, the important thing is the effort.

Another favorite Hill Up Down workout is 7 x 5 minutes with 1:00 rest. This one is a little easier for planning out the rest given that each interval is the same. The faster runner jogs back past the slower runner for the start of the next interval.

 Example 2

 0:00 – You both start the 5 minutes up hill

 5:00 – You finish interval and jog back down, partner finishes interval and begins standing rest

 6:00 – You’ve jogged back down past your standing partner and you immediately turn and start the 4:00 up hill, partner starts the 4:00 up hill

 … Continue workout

If after the first one, you discover you aren’t catching your partner after you’ve jogged back down a minute and given them a head start, jog less and take standing rest. If you are catching them and getting way ahead, jog for 70-90 seconds on the recovery. Whatever is the right amount that you catch them about halfway through the 5:00 or so makes for a good partner workout.

You can use these workouts as described by adjusting the times and paces or you can simply use them for ideas to plan your own partner workouts. The important thing is to be flexible and do the workout together so you can encourage each other and have fun being on the trails working hard together.

Oh, in case you were wondering… Tad is the slower partner 🙂

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