Cross-Country Running: Popsicle Stick Workout

Cross-Country Running: Popsicle Stick Workout

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education Update

The popsicle workout is a lot of fun, but it's also a super way to improve your distance runners' VO2 max--the ability to take in, distribute and use oxygen. The running employs sets of 60 second and 3 minute running, at a pace that is optimal for improving V02 max. And it provides a motivator that will keep your runners working hard right until the final repetition.

This workout is ideal if you have an out-and-back route that is roughly 1km long. It also works on a circular course or the track.

Give each runner a popsicle stick with their name on it (just write their name in marker or pen).

The workout goes like this. Runners perform a 60 second run, get 90 seconds recovery, then perform another 60 second run back to the start. After 90 seconds rest, they then run for 3 minutes, dropping their popsicle stick where they finish.

They are now at the far end of the course. They repeat the procedure (without the popsicle stick) which brings them back to the start of the course.

They then peform one final set. The motivator is that, on the final 3 minute run, they want to reach or pass the spot marked by their popsicle stick.. The runner who is closest to their stick when the final 3 minute whistle blows, is the winner.

Running Pace
A key to the workout is that the runs are performed at the pace determined by the Bilat test (see article, "V02 Max: Bilat test"). That is, the pace your runners can perform when running full out for six minutes.

Or, have them run at what feels like their 3k-5k race pace.

• The winner is the athlete who runs the farthest past their popsicle stick on the final repetition.

Popsicle Stick Workout

Popsicle Stick Workout

Reference: From a workout by Darren Jermyn, Assistant Coach, Laurentian University Women's XC/Track teams. October 2006.


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