The Michigan Workout

In the mid 1970′s, Ron Warhurst, the coach of the University of Michigan, devised a workout for his cross country team that has became a staple for runners throughout the country. Known as “The Michigan,” the workout is designed to simulate the change of paces that runners experience in a race. It is a combination of a fartlek, and short tempo runs, and is one of the most challenging workouts a runner can attempt.

The Michigan consists of the following:

1. The workout begins with a fast mile on a track. The best runners should attempt to run about 15-20 seconds slower than their best mile time. The purpose of this intense mile is to simulate the fast pace at the start of a race.

2. After the mile, jog about 3 minutes before running a slower mile on a road or trail. This mile should be about a minute slower than the track mile.

3. After the road/trail mile, jog 3 minutes and then run a fast 1200 meters on the track at about the pace you ran your first mile.

4. Jog 3 minutes and run another road/trail mile at the pace you ran the first road/trail mile.

5. Jog 3 minutes and run a fast 800 meters on the track

6. (optional) Jog 3 minutes, and run another road/trail mile.

7. Jog 3 minutes and finish with an all-out 400 meter run on the track. It is really important to run this last part of the workout as quick as possible because it simulates a kick at the end of a race.

Only advanced runners should try to incorporate step 6 because the extra road/trail mile makes the workout pretty long. For an experienced runner who has a best time of 4:45 in the mile, this workout might look like this:

Track Mile: 5:10
Road Mile: 6:10
1200: 4:00
Road Mile: 6:10
800: 2:40
Road Mile: 6:10 (optional)
400: 1:06

There is no doubt that this workout is a beast. But it is really a great way to incorporate many different kinds of workouts into one session. Definitely take a few days after running a Michigan to let your body recover.

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