In the last year there have been a lot of trending articles in the fitness world on what the experts now consider to be the best way to stay fit and in shape. It’s hard to keep up with their ever changing minds! One year they advice us all to practice yoga and the next year slow walking down dirt paths in nature is the new nirvana. But lately I’ve seen the experts in the different sports spheres agree on one practice: running for brief duration at a very intense speed. In other words, running fast.

Most beginner runners tend to train at a running speed that is well within their comfort zone. Part of this has to do with experience. They don’t know how to handle themselves when their body is screaming for more oxygen (breathe!) and they get alarmed when they feel their heart beating faster than it usually does on those slow and easy workouts.

But learning to run at a more intense speed, even for very short distances, is the fastest way not only to improve your running but to get in better shape. You can insert these exercises (one at a time!) into your training plan once a week. Start off each session with 30:00 minutes of an easy warm up run, you know, that lovely comfort zone you love so much. Then to finish your training session add on one of these exercises.

- Uphill Sprints - The incline of the hill doesn’t need to be steep and you can start out the running distance at about 50 meters. For your recovery walk slowly back to your starting point at the bottom of the hill.

- Sprinting on the beach - The sand will give your body extra cushioning and at the same time slow you down. This again can be a distance of 50 meters or if you’re feeling up to it, 100 meters. You can run with your shoes or be adventurous and go barefoot. Be aware that this is harder than it looks!

- Jumprope - Did you used to jumprope as a child? Then you probably still know how to do it. Start with twenty double jumps while slowly turning the rope. Remember that the speed of the rope is in your control through your wrists. Between sets you can walk for a minute or run slowly for 200 meters.

- 500 meter intervals - Once you’ve done a few weeks of sprints or jump roping you’re ready to try running for longer distances beginning with 500 meters. Try six intervals with two minute recovery periods between each. Time your runs so you can get an idea about how fast you’re running and if there’s improvement from one session to the next.

- 1km - The almighty 1km “test” is simple to do. Run fast for 1km and time it. I like having my runners do these often just to get used to throwing in a fast pace every once in awhile. In just a few minutes you can see exactly in what kind of shape you’re in once you know what your base 1km speed is.