July 23rd, 2009 at 6:26 am
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Posted in: Training



How do you increase your run speed?  Have you ever felt you were destined to be slow?  It may just be your mind that is telling you this.  You will be surprised at how fast you can be when you train for it.

In the past, I accepted the notion that I am slow.  However, now that I am actively working on my speed, I can see that has just been a mindset.  I am getting faster fast.  I even feel it takes more effort for me to run at my previously slower speeds.

Initially I played around with some intervals, just kicking it up a notch here and there.  Now I am getting serious about speed with some focused workouts.  I will discuss the 4 workouts necessary to prepare you for a faster marathon.


Tempo Runs

These runs involve starting at an easy pace, building to a faster pace (30-45 seconds faster than marathon pace), then finishing at an easy pace.  These runs are not long, usually 30 to 50 minutes.  It would look like this:  10 minutes easy, 10 minutes gradually increasing pace, 10 minutes at fast pace, 10 minutes at easy pace.


Fartlek Runs

These runs are unstructured, which is nice for flexibility.  You are running at your easy pace (1-2 minutes slower than marathon pace), and you increase speed when you feel like for however long you want.  These runs can be 3-6 miles — a good way to turn ‘junk miles’ into productive ones.  You can play with different speeds here.  It allows you to listen to your body and respond accordingly.


Pace Runs

These runs are done at marathon pace or 30-45 seconds slower.  These are a little longer, usually 4-10 miles.  They help you get the feel for your marathon pace without going so long that you risk injury.


Long Runs

These do not work on speed, but are obviously the most important training runs of your program.  These workouts go from 6 to 20 miles (some do longer, but it doesn’t seem necessary — I only train to 16 - 18).  This type of run is at a pace 1 - 2 minutes slower than marathon pace.  The point of these runs is to get you used to being on your feet for hours.


You will find that a pace you could only tolerate for 1 minute last week, you can now do for 2 minutes.  You see that your easy pace has gone from 11:00 miles to 9:30 miles.  The body is amazing for its ability to adapt and improve.  It can be the mind that really holds you back.  Whatever you expect yourself to be able to do is usually what you do.  This is not typically your full capacity, though.  Remember, there was a time the 4:00 minute mile didn’t exist.

My program includes each of these training runs, to give me a total of 4 runs a week.  This is an ideal schedule, allowing for plenty of rest to reduce risk of injury.  This also eliminates junk miles — running just to keep your mileage up for the week.  Using these runs in training not only helps build speed, but also keeps things very interesting.

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