Cross-Country Running: Squirrel Chase Workout

Mark Dewan

Interval and fartlek training (fartlek is a Swedish term referring to continuous running in which speeds constantly change) are important ways to improve running speed and anaerobic fitness.

However, regular interval and fartlek training is often intimidating or boring for beginners.

Here's a fun substitute that will introduce your athletes to interval/fartlek training, and may also provide your exceptional runners with a yummy dinner for their entire family (just kidding).

Off to the Chase
After your normal warm-up, head for any park that contains trees, running at a moderate pace.

The fun begins as soon as an athlete spots a squirrel. He/she begins a mad dash after the squirrel, followed by other runners who were slow off the mark or looking in other directions.  The dash continues until the squirrel climbs a tree to safety, at which point the runners slow their pace and resume their search for new prey.

Continue running and “chasing” until your athletes have covered a pre-determined distance (e.g. twice around the park) or a specific time.

If you live in an area that is squirrel-poor, your students could chase after seagulls, crows, or any creature that will run, fly or swim away (avoid skunks, porcupines and Tasmanian Devils). 

Contributor: Mark Dewan, a physical education graduate from Laurentian University in Sudbury Ontario, is currently a teacher and coach in Stratford, Ontario.

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