This past Sunday a new world record was set for the fastest marathon. Wilson Kipsang of Kenya ran 26.2 miles in 2:03:23! This means he was able to sustain a pace of less than a 4.5 minute mile!
Most of us are reasonably happy to complete a half marathon in two hours. But what if you want to get faster? Maybe you are looking to break your 5k PR or just shave some time off of your per mile pace. How do you do it? Well, you have to train. There are various methods to choose from – intervals, fartleks, tempo runs, hills. You can pick one method or try a combination. See what works best for you. Before you try any speed training, though, make sure you have a solid running base to prevent injury. Also, speed training may not be the best idea if you are increasing mileage to prepare for a long distance run.
The first step in running faster is to be aware of your pace. I highly recommend a running watch with GPS. If you are a competitive person, I bet this alone will make you faster! Once you see your own time you will want to run harder to beat it.
Now that you have your watch, try speed training once a week. Maybe you will like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This type of structured interval training requires you to run from 10 – 60 seconds at race pace (full effort), followed by a recovery period of slower running for 1 – 4 minutes. You may want to start with two intervals and work up to a workout including ten intervals. This type of low volume, high intensity training is sure to make you faster!
If intervals are not your thing, try fartleks. OK, go ahead and laugh. It does sound funny. The word fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” This unstructured approach alternates moderate to hard efforts into an otherwise easy run. For example, while running you will just decide to go all out – to the next mailbox, or maybe to “that” tree. This approach does not focus on pace or distance. You decide how fast you want to go and for how long you want to maintain the effort before slowing down for a recovery period. Fartleks are fun if you run with a group.
If you do not want to run intervals at all you can try a tempo run to increase your speed. In a tempo run, you start your run with a warm up. Once warmed up, you run for a pre-established distance at a comfortably hard pace, followed by a cool down. Your comfortably hard pace should be slower than race pace, but still somewhat difficult. Your exact pace will vary depending upon the weather and your course. An example of a tempo run might be a 5 – 10 minute warm up followed by a 15 – 20 minute tempo run, ended with a 5 – 10 minute cool down. Tempo training improves your focus, helps you run faster and can act as a race simulation.
Running hills can also help you run faster. Although hill training is not my favorite, it has been shown to build strength and muscle elasticity. This extra power will increase your speed. You can work hills into any of the above training, or just add hills to your regular distance.
Whenever you are speed training, be careful to avoid injury. Be sure to stretch and fuel properly. Take rest when your body needs it. When you run hard, it will feel uncomfortable. Try to focus your attention on positive thoughts. Run faster today to run faster on race day!
So, I am wondering, have you tried speed training? What works best for you?