Here we are running and drinking just having a great time but sometimes we want to get faster but what does it take really take to get faster? When I started training I wanted to figure out what I needed to do to run as fast as possible over the distance I was racing. The problem I ran into is that there’s so many good coaches out there with vastly different approaches to training their athletes. So what is the best way to approach speed training? Well just like Monica Bolt said that cross-training is tailored to the induvial so is speed training.
If speed training is tailored to the individual how do we tailor workouts to meet our own specific needs? Well not all of us want to be one of those crazy insane runners that has their life revolve around running so we need to find workouts that fit our specific lifestyle and goals. We need to figure out how many days a week we’re willing to run and how much time we can dedicate each day to our runs and workouts.
The ideal situation is where you get to the point where you are running 5-6 days a week and have 2 days for speed workouts and 1 for a long run. We all have our own schedules and we need to adjust our training accordingly but still maximize the quality of our training that we do have time for. For example leading up to running 17:00 in the 5k I didn’t break 30 miles a week and also ran a 1:21:13 in the half. I was cross training on the bike some to keep my legs fresh with the low impact cardio and my strength training workout was really consistent but very simple. I believe the quality of the workout is way more important than the amount of miles you put in. The goal is to put in minimum amount of effort while still getting the maximum results.
If you’re interested in running only 3 days a week space out the runs to allow for your body to recover before the next run. One of the keys is alternating your workouts from week to week. Before and after each speed workout make sure you have an easy run to warm up before starting the workouts especially in the winter. On one week have some shorter mixed short distance sprints on the track (200m-400m) and then the next week do longer distance repeats (800m-1mile). Another good idea is to add in some hill repeats occasionally. The second day will usually be a tempo or progressive run. One thing I would do is start out with a pace I could run hard at for 3 miles and increase it by a mile every week or every other week. Another way would be to have that target pace and set the starting pace slower and get faster every mile so that the average time is where you want it to be. The last workout day is usually your weekend run. The last day you can have an easy long run at a distance where your legs don’t feel dead afterwards and do several 100m build ups afterwards.
Any days that you run over 3 a week should be at a nice and easy pace to recover from the speed days while still getting some miles in. With some of the easy runs add in a few build ups to help build speed even on the easy days. Always take the easy runs and warm ups extremely easy so that we have more energy for our speed work. Try to finish the workouts with a little bit of energy left so you don’t beat your body down and have enough strength for the big race.
With speed training there are so many ways to get faster so you just need to experiment with what works best for you and your schedule. Be sure to take time to adjust to speed training and not to run too hard too fast. As long as you approach speed training the right way and are both patient and consistent you will definitely get faster and learn how to progress your training.
You can catch Doug hanging out at podiums after most local races, or stop by one our runs to ask him more questions!