Run Right: Change Up Your Workout

Staff Writer
A UCLA coach shares one approach to varying to his athletes' routine

UCLA's assistant women's cross country coach, Forest Braden, varies his athlete’s workouts to help them stay on top of their game. We asked him to share a few exercises he recently tried with his runners.

Last Monday, instead of a typical workout of a steady run at "lactate threshold" pace and several hard 800’s, Braden created a fartlek workout of various paces “that I believe was just what we needed mentally and physically,” he wrote from Los Angeles.  As the practice progressed, the challenge increased.

For the workout, Braden marked off 650-meter loops around a field. The runners did one lap hard and one lap at moderate speed (roughly threshold pace). With each set, the runners picked up the pace. Women repeated the exercise six-to-seven times and men eight-to-10 times. The maximum distance was 20 laps, or around 13,000 meters or 8 miles. 

“This workout simulated a cross country race and forced the runners to stay tough for around two minutes without fully allowing their bodies to recover after each hard rep,” Braden explained. “By the end of the workout it was by sheer will power that they were able to keep pushing each hard lap without giving up too much on the ‘easy’ lap. The top group ran consistently faster each lap and was able to close with their fastest laps at the end. This workout showed me the level of commitment and toughness that our team has, and it pumped them up knowing they accomplished the grueling workout so well.”

Forest  Braden ran track for Boise State (2002-2007) where he was a three-time All-American and won seven Western Athletic Conference titles prior to his arrival at UCLA.