How to Work on Your Running Weaknesses

A lieutenant colonel runs hills in Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Steve Schmid runs the 26.2-mile course of the Marine Corps Marathon Forward at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Oct. 27, 2013. (Sgt. Bobby J. Yarbrough/Regional Command Southwest)

Sometimes, you will not know what your weakness is until you try something new. There are some events you'll be naturally gifted at, but others will require a lot of work before you're even competent. If you change your workout often enough and try something new, you may have found a new love for something or have discovered a weakness. Rarely is someone great at all the elements of fitness: Speed, stamina, agility, strength/power, technique, endurance, flexibility or mobility.

Here is a workout I like to do to check progress, or lack thereof, in a variety of running styles and benchmark distances:

All kinds of running (speed, endurance, agility)

  • One mile jog/easy dynamic stretches/recover/hydrate.
  • One mile as fast as you can -- timed, followed by an easy quarter-mile to half-mile walk, with some dynamic stretches added in to prepare for a full-sprint buildup.
  • Run 5x100-meter sprints: Build up to full speed. How fast are you these days? Try a 40-yard dash as well for kicks.
  • Run a hill, steps or bleachers nonstop for five minutes.
  • Set up cones or ladder drill for 5-10 minutes of different events: Illinois Agility Test, shuttle runs, etc.

Repeat five times.

  • Quarter-mile goal pace of your timed run (i.e., 1.5-mile run at nine minutes = a 90-second, quarter-mile pace)
  • 20 squats
  • 10 lunges/leg

After you do this workout, you may find something you like doing and challenge yourself to get better at it. Or you may want to do this again another day the following week but in a different order, as your running stamina or endurance is lacking and you failed to score at your goal pace in the last workout because of fatigue.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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