(This post contains affiliate links. I was not compensated to write this review, and all opinions are my own).
You probably have that friend who ran track in high school and crushes a 7-minute mile. That’s definitely not me. My running career began at the age of 30, meaning that I’m sloooooow. For the first few years of running, I chugged along at a 10-minute mile pace and felt proud to complete long distances. But with several half marathons and one full marathon under my belt, the thrill of just completing a race started to wear off. I wanted to run faster, but TBH, I wasn’t really sure how to make that happen.
To be a bit more specific, my 2018 goal was to run a half marathon in less than 2-hours (around a 9:09 pace for the entire race). When I came up with this goal in November of 2017, I felt like I had plenty of time to train for it before the NYC ½ Marathon in March. After some Googling, I figured out that running faster meant incorporating speed workouts into my training. That means sprint repeats, timed miles, tempo runs, fartleks, etc. It’s all well and good to read about these types of workouts, but implementing them is a whole different beast.
The problem with March races is that they require training during the harsh New York winters. As someone who despises the treadmill, I run outside almost always, but the freezing temps, harsh winds or snow were working against my desire to speed train. In the end, I didn’t achieve my sub 2-hour ½ marathon goals in March. But once spring hit, everything changed.
The weather warmed up, the trees grew greener and my motivation reached an all time high. With another race approaching in May, my goal of running faster became my driving force. But I decided to change things up and get some help from running professionals.
In NYC, hiring a running coach can cost thousands of dollars (and is outside of my budget), so I did what any millennial would do–downloaded a workout app. I looked for one that would help me with outdoor running, treadmill workouts and strength training, since all three of those things are components of speed training. After researching several apps, I landed on Aaptiv (affiliate link) because of its trainer-led, music drive audio workouts. I’ve always wanted to work out with a trainer, but it’s always been out of my price range.
What is Aaptiv?
Upon entering the Aaptiv app, you can select a workout from a variety of different types, such as outdoor running, treadmill running, elliptical, indoor cycling, rowing, stair climber, boxing, walking, weight loss workouts, meditation, strength training, abs, yoga, stretching and more. Each category has hundreds of workouts that are lead by a trainer. My favorite part is that the trainer talks to you through your headphones and you don’t need to watch any videos. Instead, the workouts are set to music and the trainer tells you exactly what to do. You can filter the workouts based on your level, music preference, duration or trainer. Here’s a little preview of filtering through workouts in the app:
I have never worked out with a personal trainer before, but I quickly became obsessed with having the trainer in my ear. This is where Aaptiv differs from other workout apps on the market. My winter training proved that I needed some external motivation to run sprints and increase my speed, and the Aaptiv trainers have put together incredible programs that have helped me become a faster runner.
Not only do the trainers have tons of energy to keep you motivated throughout your workout, but they also discuss proper technique. Plus, every workout is different and consists of exercises that I wouldn’t think to do on my own. This has REALLY come in handy over the summer, when it’s brutally hot and humid outside and I’m forced to run on a treadmill.
Instead of dreading the treadmill, I actually enjoy hopping on the treadmill and doing Aaptiv’s speed or hill treadmill workouts. Plus, the workouts help me push myself beyond what I would normally do, and speeds that used to seem hard now feel easy. That’s right, after using the Aaptiv app for a few months, I’ve become faster and stronger.
The proof is in the pudding
In May, I shed 10 minutes off my half-marathon time (since March), successfully running a 2:04, and I’m hoping to make that a 1:59 in the September Philly Half Marathon.
Not to mention that I’ve also uses the app to incorporate strength training into my usually run-centric workouts. This has made me stronger all around, and that strength has made me faster.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas:
- Train for a race (5K, 10k, half marathon, marathon)
- Become a faster runner
- Be able to do X number of push-ups
- Learn how to do a handstand
- Finally enjoy going to the gym
- Increase the weight you lift
- Find a type of workout that you actually like
- Learn how to meditate to manage stress
- Use bodyweight exercises to workout from home