Just the other day, I was talking to someone who was just getting started with her running journey. She was struggling a bit with the idea of running a full 5k, but the moment she said that, she got really embarrassed and said, “I know that doesn’t sound like anything too hard to you, but it’s just … scary.”
Dude, I HEAR you.
Now, there are times when running three miles feels … well, less hard than other times, but pretty much every time I lace up my shoes, I swallow doubts about whether I’ll be able to keep up or finish. (Yes, even with a couple of long course triathlons under my race belt.) As I run more and more often, sure, my physical fitness increases, but I don’t think I’d ever call running any real distance easy. I think the mental aspect of knowing I can complete a distance (whether it’s 3 miles or 13) because of my experience in training is just as important as the physical stuff — and that makes getting out the door to log some miles at least a little easier to handle.
Still, it’s awfully nice to have a training schedule or program to rely on when trying to up those miles, right?
I’m hoping to get some big runs in this summer — maybe a half marathon or a 25k trail run, which could potentially lead to something even a little longer this fall or winter, if my training goes really well — and I’m pretty psyched to have The North Face’s new Mountain Athletics app (plus a few pieces from their Mountain Athletics apparel collection) to help me stay on the right track.
The app (free for iOS) offers six 6-week training programs to prepare athletes for upcoming seasons of their outdoor sport of choice: running, general fitness, alpine climbing, climbing, backcountry skiing and all-mountain skiing. The programs were designed by experts and feature monitored progress, detailed session calendars, workout schedules, coaching messages and tutorials (which include super helpful in-app videos starring The North Face athletes showing specific exercises and proper form). There are instructions or videos for every exercise listed, and there’s both an integrated session timer and simple swipe functionality to track your rounds, all of which makes following along with the workouts and seeing how you’ve improved a piece of cake.
Sessions are generally designed to take around an hour or a little longer, and it’s strongly recommended that you follow the program as closely as possible without skipping any sessions or moving them around. Many do require a gym and/or equipment, so a bit of planning is required, but the exercises themselves (at least the ones I’ve checked out so far) aren’t too complicated.
From warm-ups to strength work to running and more, this app is giving me plenty of new challenges already.
Plus? There’s easy-to-use social sharing functionality. And you know how I love using social when it comes to fitness! Oh, and you earn badges as you go. I love earning prizes.
I’m embarking on the running program (shocking, I’m sure), so I’ll be spending four days a week doing track and strength workouts with the following goals:
- strengthen hips and legs
- build core and upper body strength while staying lean
- increase overall physical durability and — super key for me — injury resistance.
It’s easy to modify many of these moves by increasing or decreasing the weight. Suggestions for how to make things easier or tougher are even offered right in the app.
I’ll share my progress over the next couple months, and I’ll tell you a little bit about the workouts, too (including what I like, what I don’t, and what I love to hate). In the meantime, though, we’ve got a super cool offer for you: You can enter to win $500 gift card (below!) for The North Face in order to pick up some sweet Mountain Athletics from The North Face gear of your own! And, of course, you can download the Mountain Athletics App. too.
Do you like having a training program to follow when you’re trying to build up your mileage? Or do you prefer to play things by ear? I know I push a lot harder when I’ve got a program to follow! —Kristen