It’s the age old question.
How do you get faster as a runner.
And in truth the answer is multi faceted.
There are 4 main areas you need to think about.
1- building speed
2- maintaining speed
3- overall fitness
4- anti fragility
To begin with you quite simply need to train at speed to get faster. Interval training is a great way of doing this. You begin to train at faster speeds in shorter bursts with plenty of rest in-between.
Over time you adapt and find those speeds easier to maintain. Typically you are aiming to work at speeds which are faster than the “race pace” you want to maintain.
From here we then need to work on maintaining these speeds.
The next part is being able to maintain a higher speed. How do we do that? Again by running at fast speeds.
Tempo work is important here as you run at or a bit faster than your race pace for shorter distances than the race. Again you are beginning to get used to working at these higher speeds and maintaining them over a longer distance. Tempo runs will usually be slower than your intervals (because there are no breaks) but still faster or the same as the speed you want to run at.
Example of the above.
Sally wants to run a 25 minute 5km race. Her current PB is 28 minutes.
She starts running 400m intervals and then gradually increasing to 800m and 1km intervals. All of these intervals are run at the equivalent of around 4:30 per KM (with her race pace needing to be 5 mins per km to achieve her goal.)
Later in her training she begins using a few tempo runs where she runs between 2-3.5km at a pace of 4:45 mins per KM.
Which means on the day when she runs because she has been training at higher paces she should find it easier and should complete her goal because her body is used to running faster.
Its a rough example but hopefully you get the gist.
Training at speed is important but so it building overall fitness and your ability to work aerobically (with oxygen present.)
You seen when you are training intervals and tempo runs you are working hard and stressing your anaerobic system (a energy system that runs without oxygen.)
Which essentially is a short term system that's harder to maintain. To actually increase overall fitness we also need to work at the other end of the spectrum.
And to do this we need to do some easier running where we are not breathing heavily and can maintain a conversation well.
This will essentially improve our overall fitness and in turn help us to maintain faster speeds in races, for longer with less effort. Plus it helps with our recovery.
The running stuff is important.
But do you ever wonder why so many elite runners now also train in a gym?
All that running ( and especially at speed) takes a toll on your body. And if you don’t look after it……it will break.
Making sure you are strengthening the muscles to help support your joints and the high impact nature of running is hugely important.
As is stretching and mobility work to make sure you feel good and your body functions the way it is designed to.
Plus strength work will help you to hold strong running positions for longer periods of training and racing.
Anti fragility training is about making sure you don’t break and helping you feel good from workout to workout.
Plus it builds strength for every day tasks in life. And an extra is you will probably look better naked too. All the wins.
If you can incorporate all four of those in your routine I guarantee you will get quicker. And if you need any help putting it into practice contact me via one of the ways below.
About the Author:
Hi my name is Ollie McCarthy and I am a Running Coach and Personal Trainer in Tunbridge Wells. I help people to build fit, robust and capable bodies that look good but also perform well. This is done through a combination of running, mobility, strength and conditioning work.