Two ways to add faster paces into your overall training.
Sara asks: I’ve been running consistently for several months now – three or four days a week – and averaging about 30 kilometres a week. My endurance has definitely improved, so now I would like to work on getting faster. What are the best ways for me to add some speed to my routine?
Consistency does pay off, and after several months of training, I would agree that you are ready to incorporate some speedwork into your routine.
First, some background before you start to crank up the dial. Plan on doing speed workouts just once a week, keeping these workouts short. (Usually five to eight kilometres in length.) Always do a thorough warm up or spend about 10 to 20 minutes running easy before picking up the pace.
The warm up is essential because it prepares your body for the upcoming workout. Some of this process includes aiding blood flow, warming up soft tissue, elevating heart rate and loosening up your joints.
Now onto the workouts. One of the simplest ways to begin incorporating speed into your training is to add some surges to runs. For example, let’s say your shortest run of the week is six kilometres, so this run would be a good place to begin your speed training. After you are warmed up and loose about a kilometre or two in, push your run pace for 30 seconds –you should feel like you’re running as hard as you would in a 5K or 10K – and then return to a slower pace for three to four minutes of recovery. Repeat that hard, 30-second run sequence with recovery baked in until you hit your six total kilometres.
After you become accustomed to this workout, keep challenging yourself by lengthening the surge interval in 30-second increments. The workout then becomes hard for one minute and easy for three to four minutes. Continue working on lengthening this surge interval until it is three minutes long. At that point, the workout becomes three minutes at that faster effort and three minutes of recovery.
Another way to ramp up a run is to do a negative split run. This refers to running faster as the run progresses. This is much harder than it sounds, but the good news is that it typically yields good performance results.
Begin developing this negative split skill now on shorter training runs to boost your training and pacing skills for races. After your warm up (of course!), start this negative split run off at comfortable pace. Then, with each kilometre, you will drop your run pace by five to 10 seconds for the duration of the run, so each kilometre is faster than the previous kilometre.
The last kilometre should feel like a good push pace – not as hard as the final kick of a 5K, but you should be moving faster than your normal training pace.
Don’t just stop running when you complete any of these speed workouts. Plan a cooldown period by running easy for five to 10 minutes. The cooldown helps your body transition back to ‘normal’ after a run, but is especially important following an intense workout. Continued movement helps avoid blood from pooling in your legs and minimises the risk of becoming dizzy or lightheaded after a hard workout.