Today I’d like to present you a running training technique I sometimes do to get faster and add some change to my speed work. I don’t think the soccer run is a term that is commonly used when reading about the conventional running workouts. I gave it that name because soccer inspired me to that training method. In the following paragraphs you’ll learn what’s my idea behind the soccer run, how to do it and what benefits you get out of it.
The soccer run is a speed workout that imitates the running of a soccer player during a game.
As you might know in Europe the most popular of all sports is soccer or football as we call it here. Being surrounded by soccer fans most of the time I also watched a fair amount of soccer games. When watching these matches I got the impression that soccer players are not that tough after all. They seem to scream and suffer really hard after the tiniest contact. I usually consider athletes from many other sports like ice hockey or ultra running to be much tougher.
In recent years more and more statistics data became available and it is nowadays easy to measure the distance a player covered throughout a game. As an endurance runner I thought running a 10k or 12k in 90 minutes is not that much and many could do it.
But when observing a single soccer player it becomes obvious that they are not running at a constant pace. And as we all know running at a constant pace is the most efficient technique to achieve long distances per time. A soccer match for a player is more like a couple of very fast but short sprints interspersed with slow jogging or walking.
The soccer run is a variation of the well-known and popular Fartlek.
So I tried to do training runs that simulate the running of a soccer player during a game and the soccer run was born.
As I said the soccer run should be as similar as possible to the running of a soccer player during a game. I normally do only one half so a workout of 45 minutes without warm up and cool down. I see the soccer run as a kind of Fartlek with very high intensity intervals and longer periods of slow jog and walking.
Here I’d like to give you a step-by-step example of a soccer run.
Slowly jog for 5-10 minutes to get your muscles warmed up and your cardiovascular system going.
Sprint as fast as you can for about 20 seconds. That simulates a sprint if you need to chase an opponent player or a fast rush towards the goal.
Walk easily for about a minute. This is to simulate a break of the game like when for example the ball goes outside and you just need to walk to your position.
Jog at an easy pace for 2-3 minutes. With that you simulate changing your position on the field when you’re not actually involved in a battle.
Repeat the last three steps several times until you reach the imaginary half time or 45 minutes. But don’t do it exactly the same over and over again. As in a soccer match the amount of sprinting, walking and jogging can be very different so try to mix things up.
As you should do after any intense workout, also after the soccer run cool down by jogging at an easy pace for 5-10 minutes.
Obviously not all soccer player run the same in the course of a game. Depending on the position, the tactics, the process of the game and the player and his style of play, the distance covered and the distribution of pace can vary by a lot.
So I’d like to share here some variations of the soccer run that are inspired by a couple of well-known players.
Lionel Messi is considered one of the best players of all time. He is small, agile and lightning fast if needed.
In recent years his style of play seems to have been focused around efficiency. Often Messi was the player with the shortest distance covered. But still you could see him sprint and score lots of goals.
So here’s a variation of the soccer run that is inspired by the playing style of Lionel Messi:
Cristiano Ronaldo is a phenomenon. Now he’s in his 30s but still he is everywhere on the pitch. It seems that he is way fitter than most other soccer players out there.
To be anywhere from the defense to the midfield and of course right in front of the goal, you need to run a lot.
So this variation of the soccer run should imitate that style of soccer playing.
As a defender that also likes to be active offensively, Sergio Ramos runs a lot during a game. But not only does he run, he also jumps quite often.
The reason for that is, that he also uses his head to clear a defensive situation and score goals as well.
This variation of the soccer run not only incorporates his running but also the regular jumps.
For me the soccer run is a combination of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and the Fartlek run and combines the benefits of these training techniques. First of all it will make you a faster runner just as any other high intensity workout will. Also it will give you the boost you need for the last couple of hundred meters in a race where you might run in anaerobic intensity.
The soccer run will make you faster and provides some variety in your training routine.
But the great thing about it is its playful approach. As with the Fartlek you don’t have strict rules. Just head out there and try to run like a soccer player. With all the walking and also standing still it is a perfect workout if you wanna check out some nice views, need to stop at a store or road crossing or want to make some nice pictures.
You can also extend the soccer run and add a second half after a 15 minute break. But believe me you’ll be pretty exhausted after that just as the soccer players are after an intense game.
So if you haven’t done training runs like this before I suggest you head outside right now and try the soccer run. In case you like it, I’d be happy if you share this post with your friends!