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Track Tuesday Workout: Run Like Mary Keitany

A workout for your next trip to the tartan.

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The next time you hit the track for some speed work, consider this quick and thorough workout from Frane Boban, run coach and  Europe senior manager for Adidas Running. Created with running legends Haile Gebrselassie and Mary Keitany (world record-holder for a women’s-only marathon), this workout featuring drills and fartleks will take a little less than an hour on the track.

Warm Up

Mary Keitany after the 2019 NYC Marathon
Mary Keitany of Kenya after her second place finish in the Women’s Division of the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon on November 03, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Boban stresses the importance of a thorough warm-up: “We don’t want you to hurt yourself. The goal is survival,” he says. Start with an easy pace jog for 800 meters (two laps). Keitany keeps it around 10:30 for a basic warm-up jog.

Boban likes to follow a warm-up run with lots of drills to get your body ready for the movements it needs to run fast in the upcoming fartleks.

Try the following for about 40–75 meters each, finishing with an easy jog back to start.

  • Knee hugs. The quintessential dynamic warm-up drill is key for opening hips. While walking, squeeze your right knee to your chest. Take a step and squeeze your left knee. Keep alternating.
  • High knees. Do two rounds of these, one slow, focusing on form, and one faster, focusing on speed of leg turnover. Try to get your knees as high as your hips. For the faster round, finish with a sprint instead of a jog.
  • Butt kicks. While moving forward, try to kick your butt with your feet.
  • Single-leg B skips. These can be challenging to your coordination. Focus on bringing one leg up and driving it down while keeping the other leg straight. Do one side at a time and keep forward motion.
  • A skips. Skip forward, driving your opposite leg and arm forward.
  • Scooping leaves. Keeping one leg straight with the heel on the ground and toe bent up, bend down and scoop your arms next to the flexed foot as if you’re scooping a pile of leaves. Alternate legs. You should feel this one in your hamstrings.
  • Carioca. Also called grapevine, this drill is a favorite of Gebrselassie and helps to loosen up your core.
  • Toe raises with arms up. One of Keitany’s go-to moves, this final drill is a series that’s best done slower and then faster. On your toes, reach your arms as high up over your head as possible and hold. Move them to each side, holding, with your fingers up, “bringing heaven down to us,” as Keitany says, then bend down and reach your arms behind you. Try to stay on your toes the entire time, and go through the entire sequence three times.

Workout

It’s fartlek time. After a gentle 30 second jog, do 15 seconds fast followed by 15 seconds slow for three loops around the track. While the “fast” segments will vary for each person based on pace, try to see if you can push to Keitany’s preferred fast pace, a blazing 4:30.

End with a basic cooldown of a 1-minute walk followed by your favorite static stretches.