This season, I have been training with a running coach with the hope of running faster, stronger and faster. While I won’t share all the tips and tricks I have learned through this process, (if you want to hire a running coach I strongly Recommend Jen Segger
) I will share two very valuable tips.
1. You can run your shorter runs faster:
Short runs are geared for keeping up your mileage and cardio through out the week in between your long runs. These runs is where you can make a huge difference in the long run, it is where you get the dirty work done. The tedious uphill speed repeats, the challenging speed intervals, the flat terrain, consistent paced runs, down hill repeats. Depending on what your training for,y your training runs will obviously look quite different. In these shorter runs, I highly recommend picking up the pace.
Why? Well first off, speed work is actually really fun once you’ve accepted that your going to be uncomfortable. Speed work is an excellent way of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, improving your cardiovascular and muscle-skeletal strength and increasing your endurance. The reason why speed work or a faster pace is possible on these shorter runs is because you have ran this distance before, multiple times. If you stick to the same pace you won’t get nearly as strong as you could increasing the pace. Your body knows the distance, you already know you are capable of if. Don’t be afraid to pick up the pace a little, you know your body can handle this distance, it’s time to challenge it a little.
The easiest way to introduce speed work into your training routine is to start with intervals. You will need a watch or something with a timer. You can do two strategies, either time or distance intervals. Most commonly I do distance, meaning 1km pushing the pace hard, followed by 1km at your “go forever” pace. If you’re new to speed work, pushing yourself for a whole km can be pretty daunting. It is cool to start with half a km, or even 2 minutes. For your designated speed interval, really try and keep that pace as fast as possible. Focus on fast feet, good posture and effective breathing. Try and push yourself for the whole time or distance that you’ve designated and don’t let stop. It is going to hurt and it will be hard, but allow yourself the time to really push yourself. Once the speed interval is complete, bring your pace down to a comfortable pace to lower your heart rate and regain control of your breathing. Keep the intervals of speed and easy pace the same distance or time.
Try for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how you feel or how experienced of a runner you are. If you are training for a longer distance, push the intervals for a longer time. Make suer you end with a long enough cool down period to bring your heart rate back down.
The reason why speed work or a faster pace is possible on these shorter runs is because you have ran this distance before, multiple times. If you stick to the same pace you won’t get nearly as strong as you could increasing the pace. Your body knows the distance, you already know you are capable of if. Why not step it into overdrive. I can guarantee your overall pace will increase and you’ll probably get that PR you might be after.
2. Run your long runs slower:
Get your body used to that “go forever pace”, especially if you are planning to venture into marathon territory and beyond. This pace is what will ultimately get you through the difficult parts of a race. Your pace for most of your long runs should be slow enough for you that you can hold a conversation. You really should not feel like you are dying. (Unless other wise specified in your training plan ) This way you are saving your breath, your energy and your strength for those last kms(miles).
Running in your go-forever pace should not be overlooked. So often we actually train in our zone 3. There are five zones, 1 being basically speed walking and 5 being something you can only maintain for a minute of so as it is so intense. Zone 3 is where you are pushing yourself hard, but not necessarily hard enough to get any true benefit of it, but hard enough that you are using up a lot of energy. This can also be referred to as “Junk Miles“. Zone 2, or your go-forever pace is actually much more effective for training for long distance running.
This becomes extremely important for runners venturing into new distances that you haven’t completed before. Your long training runs could be uncharted territory or you might not have hit that particular distance very many times. Slow down the pace so that you can get through the entire run feeling strong. Run at a consistent speed so that you can run as much of the distance as you can without taking a walk break. If you need to take a walk break, try interval running with 10 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking for the entire run. The one minute is long enough that it gives your body a bit of a break, but also quick enough that you do not loose the momentum of the run. This will really help you get through new distances for the first time. Slowing down your pace, and doing run/walk intervals will improve your distance running. The intent of these long runs is not to necessarily push yourself to the max. They are meant to get your body used to the distance, building endurance, strengthening your muscles and improving your cardio.
Give these tips a try as you train for your next big race!