Indian Runs are a great way to start workouts at the beginning of the season. Some of the benefits of Indian Runs are as follows:
- Individual gets introduced to running faster for a short period of time at a slower than speed session pace. It is important to slowly introduce running faster due to the fact that most runners have been running easy to moderate miles all summer.
- Team gets to run together for an entire workout. This helps build important bonds within the team. During the run, everyone can encourage the trail runner as they move to the front.
- Race tactics are introduced. It has been said that the one who wins the race is the one who can surge and recover the fastest. Indian Runs are a good way to teach how to surge and recover.
- Indian Runs can be conducted anywhere. All you need is open space of any size or terrain. Most beneficial for coaches are areas where you can see the team at all times.
How Indian Runs work:
The number of runners should be at least four, although the more runners participating, the better the workout. Start out by positioning the runners in single file. The order of the runners doesn't matter as they will all be running the same pace. Be sure to explain to them that they are running at a pace that everyone in the run can handle. For example, if the fastest runner runs at 6:20 pace and the slowest runner runs at 8:00 pace, then the group pace should be around 8:00 pace. Remember, the meat of the workout is in the pick-up phase, not the slow running phase.
The time or distance of the run can be whatever you feel the team can handle at the time. For example purposes, 20 minutes will be used as the total time. After a 10 minute warm-up, the team gets into single file. Order of the runners does not matter. They start to run at the agreed pace for the team. There are two different ways to conduct the next phase of the workout. First, the runner in the back runs (at a quick pace, but not sprinting) to the front of the line and then settles in at the required pace, 8:00. As soon as the runner gets to the front and settles at the pace, the runner at the back of the line runs to the front and then settles. This continues throughout the 20 minutes. As mentioned before, the more runners in line, the better. If you only have 4 to 6 runners, they will have to move up several times during the 20 minutes. 10 - 20 runners works better with this style. The second way to do this workout, which is more controlled, is having the coach blow a whistle every time he/she wants the runner in the back to move to the front. This way the coach can dictate how many times the runners will pick up the pace to the front.
Once the team has finished the required time for the Indian Run, have them stay together for a five to ten minute warm-down to finish the workout.