Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Become a Faster Runner

I knew the title of my post would be enough to suck you in.  You’re here for information, you’re here for the secret.  Wait…. screeeeeeeech… I don’t run fast remember?  Oh well, I still know the secret and I’m going to let you in on it. 

Are you ready?  Without further ado.  Drum roll please… Have I stretched this out long enough?  To become a faster runner you need to run faster.  Now there’s a revelation no?  But it’s true.  Think about it.  If you’re just strumming along at the exact same pace all the time, never pushing yourself to do any better, how do you expect to improve? 

So yes, to get faster you have to run faster and that means you have to do speed work.  The dreaded speed work.  It really should be a four letter word shouldn’t it? 
swear words

I’ve always done my speed work on the treadmill and it’s never been much fun.   I used a speed workout created by Jilian Michaels that could be used on any piece of cardio equipment.  It is a 20 minute workout and it is based on effort/exertion level (1 being a leisurely stroll and 10 being you can’t even breath).  It looked something like this (my speeds are indicated in bold in parentheses). 
  • Warm up:  2 minutes 30 seconds comfortable pace  (5.5 mph)
  • Level 7:  30 seconds (8.0 mph)
  • Level 5 recovery:  1 minute 30 seconds (5.5 mph)
  • Level 8:  30 seconds (8.5 mph)
  • Level 5 recovery:  1 minute 30 seconds (5.5 mph)
  • Level 9: 30 seconds (9.0 mph)
  • Level 5 recovery:  1 minute NOTICE LESS RECOVERY TIME  (5.5 mph)
  • Repeat X 2 (minus the warm up)
  • Cool Down
Anyone can do this workout and you can do it while swimming, biking, running, on the elliptical, on the spin bike… you get the point.  It works for anything and it’s based on the effort level you are giving.  You could repeat it as many times as you like, since I think speed work sucks I only did it twice and called it a day. 
Although I didn’t realize it was helping at the time, I realize now it definitely helped me to get faster.  It’s good to make yourself uncomfortable and teach your body how to adapt when it’s doing something it just doesn’t want to to do.  So even though it’s dreaded and I prefer to curse it, I understand its importance and decided to stop neglecting my speed work. 

Disclaimer:  Please know that most marathon training programs do not incorporate speed work unless you are at an advanced level.  Although I do not consider myself advanced, I feel, based on my current level of fitness, that I can COMFORTABLY incorporate speed work into my training.  End Disclaimer. 

Considering that speed work is already no fun why add insult to injury by doing said work on the treadmill?  I decided that it was time to hit the track for Yasso repeats.  I wanted to start doing LONGER speed repeats (800s /0.5 miles).  Although I most definitely ran at a slower pace during the speed interval (than on the treadmill), I was working at a higher level of exertion due to the sustained effort. 

on your mark

What is a Yasso repeat anyway?  Well I’ll tell you... Actually I’ll have Hal Higdon tell you.  He says,  “Bart Yasso is Promotions Director for Runners World magazine. Bart suggests that you run your 800 repeats using the same numbers as your marathon time. In other words, if you run a 3-hour marathon, you do the 800s in 3 minutes. A 3:10 marathoner does 3:10 repeats; 3:20 marathoner, 3:20 repeats, etc.”

So I was thinking in my ideal world I’d love to run a 4:30 marathon.  That means my 800s (2 laps of the track) should be done in 4 minutes and 30 seconds (or a 9:00 mile pace).  I was skeptical that I could run a 9:00 pace even for just a half mile (800m), but I had to at least try.  After each repeat you get 400m (1 lap) of rest.  You can rest by either jogging and/or walking and then start again. 

Here is what my workout looked like: 

3 X 800 Yasso Repeats
TimeAverage Pace
Warm up 800 5:4710:44
First 8004:12 8:25
400 recovery 3:22 13:28
Second 8004:198:38
400 recovery 3:3014:00
Third 8004:218:42
Cool Down 800 9:03 14:30 walking

Total Distance:  3.01 Total Time:  34:36:15

speed work sdt

As time progresses during marathon training so will the number of repeats.  I think the last speed workout includes EIGHT 800s.  Yikes!  I am pleased with my speed as I was able to run a lot faster than I thought I could.  The important part is that I was able to maintain the same average pace for each repeat (within 10 seconds) and that means I was running an appropriate pace.  We’ll see as the number repeats increases what I am able to do. 

As always, Bianca rocked at her speed training.  She set out to run 4:00 800s and although I do not know her pace, I know it was faster than mine (a lot).  I looked up one time and she looked like a gazelle gliding across the track.  It’s really hard not to hate her Winking smile.  Plus she’s sick!  I’ll expect to get lapped as training goes on. 

speed work bc

So there you have it.  Running faster is the only way to run faster.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial.  Up next hill repeats.  I’m pretty sure that involves puking.


Haley @ Climb Run Lift Mom said...

Great post. I've been needing to start incorporating speed work. I think I'll give your speed workout a go tonite :) Thanks!

momswimbikerun said...

Let me know how it goes!

Kara said...

I do speedwork, mostly when the baby starts fussing and I'm 2 miles from the house. :P

Ronald Obringer said...

is it weird that I love speed work? I think i should have been a sprinter. lol

Tri4Success said...

Shocking revelation here. ;-)

You're pace looks good. Keep it up!

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