Break Up Your Run With Pushups for Extra Fun and Suffering


People doing pushups with their hands on a park bench

Photo: Africa Studio (Shutterstock)

Ever done pushups or burpees in the middle of a run? Stay with me here. We’re going to make our runs a little harder, but I promise you this will also make them more fun.

Apparently this is known as a “fun run” in the military—or so I read in Tactical Barbell Conditioning, a book that I picked up for its extensive categorized list of cardio and conditioning workouts. The concept is similar to that of the fitness traila place where you jog along and stop to do exercises as you go—or any of the CrossFit WODs that involve running intervals. Basically, this structure of workout is an underrated classic.

And I think I know why: If running is hard, and exercises are hard, then the combined workout is double hard. But remember that running doesn’t have to be hard; an easy jog or an alternating walk/run is perfectly good enough to build your fitness. You also don’t have to struggle to do an exercise that’s too hard for your current level. Your challenge is to find a version of this workout that works for you.

So here are two options to consider. In the first, you get breaks:

  1. Do 30 reps of an exercise that you find easy (or at least possible) to do for 30 reps.
  2. Go for a four-minute jog.
  3. Rest for two minutes.
  4. Repeat for five total rounds.

For the exercise, consider air squats, or picnic table pushups—put your hands on a table or bench and do pushups that way. (If you can handle 30 pushups from the ground, do that.) You can split the 30 reps into 10+10+10 if you like, but don’t take any more rest than you need.

For the jog, you can set a timer on your phone, or do what I did: jog for two minutes, note where you are (the speed limit sign just after the intersection, okay), and then jog back. Now you can do the same jog every time without checking your watch.

Here’s the second option:

  1. Do a challenging (but not too terrible) exercise.
  2. Jog for four minutes. This is the closest thing you’ll get to a break.
  3. Repeat.

This one can actually be easier in a sense, because it’s teaching you how to relax and recover while you’re running. You’ll need to slow down your run, and yes, a run/walk is completely appropriate here if that’s what you need.

I went with option #1 this morning, with kettlebell swings, picnic table pushups, air squats, and lunges as my chosen exercises. It was more interesting than a plain old run, but not particularly punishing. Give either or both of these a try, and see how it goes!



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