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How To Get A Stellar Workout In A Small Neighborhood

When you're working with limited square mileage, sometimes you need to get crafty with your runs.

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Last year my husband and I moved to a new state and bought our first house. I was very excited and had big plans to explore my new neighborhood on my daily runs. But our dream home ended up being located in a very small neighborhood. Very small—as in a closed-off, less than a mile loop with a big o’l hill cutting through the middle.  Forget my dreams of exploring my new digs- I had no idea how I would get in a halfway decent workout on a regular basis.  Driving to a park or trail wasn’t really an option either; I had a baby and the thought of getting us packed up and out of the house was more exhausting than the actual run. Obviously I still have to go elsewhere for any kind of long run, but over the last year I’ve gotten creative and figured out how to get the most out of my neighborhood runs. If you’re stuck in a similar suburban situation, here are a few of my tips to make a dead end neighborhood feel endless.

Try Tabatas

Tabatas are an extremely popular exercise and work perfectly when you have limited space to run. A tabata workout entails going all out for 20 seconds, resting for 10, and repeating the circuit for a total of eight times. The high intensity will rev your metabolism, increase your endurance, and challenge all your muscles. Grab a stopwatch and sprint for the 20-second intervals. If you want to push yourself, rest for a minute or two after one full tabata and then repeat a few more times. Or switch it up each time by alternating sprinting tabatas with high knees, jump squats, or burpees.

Look For Landmarks

Pick something you see in regular intervals in your neighborhood, like mailboxes or streetlamps, and use them as your starting and ending points during your workout. New to running? Run from one landmark to the next, walk to the next one, and repeat; over time you’ll build up your stamina and be able to drop the walking. If you’re a regular runner, try a similar workout but swap the running for sprinting.

Alternatively, here’s a version specifically for college campuses.

Head For The Hills

If your streets have any kind of an incline, use it to your advantage for a hill workout. After warming up, run up your hill at a hard pace, then recover at a slow pace downhill. Repeat a few times, depending on your experience and how far/steep the hill is.

Pick Up The Pace

If you’re on a street that loops around, try this modified version of a ladder workout:
1.Warm up with one lap at an easy jog (20 percent effort)
2. Run one lap at a comfortable pace (40 percent effort)
3. Jog one lap (20 percent effort)
4. Run one lap at a moderate pace (60 percent effort)
5. Jog one lap (20 percent effort)
6. Run one lap at a hard pace (80 percent effort)
7. Jog one lap (20 percent effort)
8. Run one lap at a sprint (10 percent effort), then cool down

Depending on the distance of each lap, you may want to repeat the circuit for a longer workout, or consider doing it again in reverse order to make it more of a pyramid run. Not in the mood to play with speed? Just alternate between an easy and moderate pace every other lap. If the neighborhood you’re in doesn’t have any loops you could run, just run up one side of a straight street and then back down the other side to make one lap.