I'm not a fast runner. I like to think I'm a strong runner, but not a speed demon.
This year I broke my hand, so had to take a break from training for a couple of weeks. As usual when you have your routine broken you get to stop and reflect.
I started reading some old books again, I dug out Julian Goaters ‘the art of running faster.’
If you haven’t read this book I really recomend it. If you have any interest in running you will find it highly interesting and informative. His whole philosophy is about training for speed. After all anyone can run, but running fast, now that’s an art.
Julian was a top 5km runner in the 80s. The story’s of the athletes he injects throughout the book are worth the read alone.
One thing always comes back to haunt me, I think I read it first in Tim Noakes Law of running. It’s the fact that you can safely predict a marathon time from a 5km time, even a one mile time! The take home message, the faster you are over short distances the better equipped you are to deal with longer distances. Obviously you have to train your body to deal with the extra mileage, but speed is the key. This seems to be something some people try to hide from, to run fast times, you have to run FAST. No amount of long easy runs will give you the same top end speed as interval sessions.
So I had a think, I thought about my own training. I’m now dialling in two speed sessions a week into my training. A short interval session 200 to 400m repeats and a medium interval session, 600-1200m repeats.
On then weekends Im either going to do a long run, race or do some time trials/long intervals over 3000-5000m.
Here’s some tips for speed work that I have found useful.
Warm up first. Ten to fifteen minutes easy running will do it, finish with some strides (short bursts of speed).
Don’t go too fast. You want to maintain the same pace from your first interval to your last. Otherwise you will just burn out after a few reps. Think target 5km pace.
Build up. Dont start trying to do too much. If totally new try this session once a week for a month.
Warm up 10-15 min jog finish with strides.
week 1. 10 x 100m with 60s rest.
week 2. 10 x 150m with 60s rest.
week 3. 10 x 200m with 60s rest.
Week 4. 8 x 400m with 60s rest.
10 min cool down, easy running.
Remember speed work is tough on the body, one session a week is probably enough for most of us. The next day make sure you rest or have an easy run dialled in.
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought. I’ve got a 10km race dialled in for this Saturday, I’m hoping the last four weeks of focusing on speed will show. Fingers crossed!