March 26, 2012 by Katie
Hey everyone! It’s Monday again… Aaahhhhh. Haha I am not a fan of Monday just because it’s my longest day of the week! For some reason it just seems worse on a Monday. Anyway, I know I’ve done a lot of running talk with my half-marathon coming up this Sunday, but I’ve gotten several e-mails about running from readers (I LOVE e-mails, keep them coming!) and one in particular asked about increasing speed. I thought it would be fun to share some things that I’ve learned over the past year and a half.
Now, please remember, I am definitely NOT what you’d consider a fast runner, but I have increased my speed since I started running. If you want some great running tips from people I look to, be sure to check out some of my favorite running blogs:
Now, on to speed!
When I signed up for the Susan G. Komen 10K back in August of 2010, I was running max 3 miles at a pace of about 10:15-10:30 min/mile. Now, my average is closer to 8:45-9:15 min/mile, depending on the distance and purpose of my run. Speed has never been a huge thing for me, I’m more about completing further distances, rather than amping up my speed. I have, however, clearly managed to increase a bit!
I think I really started to pay attention to my pace when I was getting closer to running that first 10K race and a friend of mine at law school signed up to run it with me. I was so excited to have someone doing the race with me, but I actually got a bit competitive! She was very tall and could run a lot further than me, and typically a bit faster. Hearing her times made me want to pick it up! My biggest goal at that time was to run at a pace below 10 min/mile. How did I do it? I pushed harder. Simple as that.
Whenever I was out on a run I’d be sure to keep checking my phone (I used Map My Run at the time) and if I was slowing down, I’d push myself to go faster, until, eventually, hitting that pace became normal to me.
Now, of course, you have to remember that we all have bad running days. There were definitely days back then when there was no way I was going to make that pace. There are plenty of days now when I just don’t have the energy to keep up a good pace! I ran 6 miles last week on sore legs and in the heat, and I could barely keep my pace below 10 min/mile! It was rough, so don’t be discouraged! 2 days later I ran a 6 mile tempo run with an average pace of 8:34 min/mile!
I ended up completing that first 10K with an average pace of 9:18 min/mile. I was proud, but wanted to die! One year later I ran in the same race with an average pace of 8:24 min/mile! How did I do it?
Ahhhh the dreaded speed training! Some people love it, other people hate it. For me, it depends on what kind of speed training I’m doing. If it’s based off my training plan, I usually hate it. If it’s based off my mood and creativity, I LOVE it.
Training Plan Speed Runs:
Tempo Runs are runs where you warm up, then you run at your “goal pace” for a race for a few miles, and then cool down. On my training plan, these are usually 6 miles, so I do 1 mile warm up, 4 miles at “goal pace” and then 1 mile cool down.
Speedwork runs are runs where you sprint certain distances, and then jog in between. These are usually based on meters, but end up being quarter mile, half mile or full mile sprints. On my running plan, it will tell me to run 6 miles, with 4 miles at a certain pace, and half mile jogs in between.
“Speed play, or "fartlek" in Swedish (the concept originated in Sweden), is a free-flowing format in which you run faster for however long (or short) you want to.” (Runners World).
I love fartlek because, well, it has a funny name, but also it’s a fun way to do speed training based on your own rules! I love doing it on the treadmill by starting out with a mile or a half mile at just a jog to warm up, and then I’ll start increasing speeds and throwing in a full on sprint when I feel like it! Many of you are familiar with High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. Basically Fartlek is the same thing!
If you’re outside, you can do things like jog a block, then sprint a block, then walk a block and do that over and over again. Or you can just pick landmarks, like seeing a stop sign in the distance and deciding to sprint to the stop sign and then cool down and jog. There are no rules, just to push yourself! Usually you end up surprising yourself!
I have several HIIT treadmill workouts on my Workouts Page if you’re interested in seeing some that I have done. Usually I’ll do these for 3 or 4 mile runs and I end up with amazing average paces! Incorporating a speed run once a week into your workout routine can really help you build up to your goal pace, just give it a try!
Currently, my speed is just not where I want it. My initial goal for my half marathon was under 2 hours, which I still think I’m capable of. However, when I found out to qualify for a corral in the Chicago marathon you need a time of 1:50:59, I made that my new goal. 9 minute difference? Quite a leap. This means I have to keep a pace of 8:27 min/mile for 13.1 miles. Possible, but not probable based on the slow training and injuries that I’ve had.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure going to try! But I’m also going to not beat myself up about it if I can’t make it. I’ll take a week off, regroup, and then do some fartlek and maybe sign up for another race! And if I do make it, I’ll still take a week off and maybe sign up for another race – although one to run for fun!
I hope this has been helpful for you all and please don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments, or send me an e-mail at www.peaceloveandoats.com
Do you have any speed training tips?
What are you working on getting better at in your life?