You want to be a faster runner.
You’ve increased your time running. You’ve increased the distance you are running.
That’s one of the easiest ways to get faster as you build strength and endurance.
But running the same speed for every single run is not doing anything in getting your fix for the need for speed.
To run faster, you need to run faster.
For years, I stuck to the treadmill for speed training. I dialed in the speed and then held on for dear life. But then I fell in love with the track. What used to seem like the most boring thing ever quickly became fun. Or at least fun after I was done with my workout.
Doing speed work on the track upped my running confidence. To hit my prescribed paces, I had to do all the work. I couldn’t allow the treadmill to set the pace. I knew the distance, I didn’t have to worry about having to stop for traffic lights or I didn’t have to worry about climbing a hill to throw my pace off. The track really helped me figure out how to pace myself. Although truthfully, that’s always a work in progress for me. I’m always trying to get rid of my positive splitter status.
I then started to do speed work on the roads to simulate race situations. If I wanted to run faster in a race, I needed to do speed work on the roads. The law of specificity, right? In a road race situation, it’s highly unlikely that the course will be pancake flat and will be in an oval. If it is, it’s most likely a track. Or a cul-de-sac.
Bottom line is if you want to get faster, you’ve got to run faster. So do it on the treadmill, the track or on the road – whatever works for you!
If you’ve been consistently running for at least 2-3 months, you can begin to add speedwork to your training. Just a word of caution, adding too much intensity too quickly, whether it’s hills, Fartleks, intervals or tempos, can increase your risk of injury. Start off with one workout a week and gradually increase over time.
Speed work taxes your body A LOT. Your body needs time to properly recover from hard workouts. Growth occurs during rest and even easy runs in between hard sessions. You shouldn’t be running back to back hard days. You want to alternate easy/hard. Elite runners never run “fast” every single run. Their race pace may be a 5:xx something pace but training runs can have an 8:xx pace.
Keep easy days easy and hard days hard. Remember easy days are vital for improvement!
Here are four workouts to increase speed:
Besides being a really funny Swedish word that makes every giggle, Fartleks are incredibly effective in building speed. And they are one of my favorite workouts. Why do I love them? They are easy to do anywhere. They aren’t as intimidating as run x:xx pace for xx amount of time. It could be as simple as picking up the pace for 30 seconds followed by 2 minutes of easy running and repeating that 5 times.
While training for Mount Washington two years ago, I grew to love hills. Like LOVE them. Now, rather than avoiding the mega hills in town, I purposely make them a part of my route. I grew to appreciate that they do in fact make you a stronger, faster runner in the long run. The old saying, hills are speed work in disguise, is absolutely true.
Doing short, intense bursts of speed builds up your stamina and endurance. To reduce the chance of injury, if you are a new runner or new to speed training, start with hills and Fartlek training before trying interval work.
Tempo runs scare the running tights off me more than any other workout. You want me to run that fast for that long?!?! With other speed intervals, it’s always a shorter period of running at a faster speed. But with tempos, it’s faster than easy pace, but not so fast that you are out of breath. More of like a comfortably hard pace that you can maintain for an hour. Some say it’s close to your 10k pace. If you can talk easily, it’s too slow. If you can’t talk at all, it’s way too fast. It’s meant to help you run faster and harder for longer periods of time by increasing your anaerobic threshold.
Even though tempo runs scare the pants off me, I know that it’s the one workout that I should be doing to give me the biggest reward in gaining speed.
This tempo workout isn’t fancy but gets the job done.
Even if you aren’t training for a specific race or goal time, adding any of these speed workouts to your weekly rotation can help you become a more efficient and stronger runner. Plus, it just makes it fun!
What’s your favorite speed workout?
What’s your least?