Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Increasing Your Speed

When I talk about running both on the blog and off, one of the most common comments I get is in regards to my speed.  {Please don't take this as a braggy post either.  I've definitely built my speed over the past year.}  While I'm not a marathoner {and have no desire to ever do more than a half - if that}, I do like to run and I like to run fast.

This is a very flattering picture of me from last weekend's race. Ha

I've been exercising and running for as long as I can remember.  I really got into running races about a year ago.  Since then, I've run ten races.  Eight of those were 5Ks and two were 10Ks.  For the most part, my times have been increasing.  My PR was a 21'10 (6'49 pace) 5K although I've run sub-21's in training.  I need to pull one of those out in a race! 

I'm not going to be shy about it: I like to win.  And the boys like the medals and plaques that usually come along with the wins.  In order to win, you have to be fast.  I'm going to share with you the things that have worked for me and increased my speed.  And don't be intimidated.  These tips work for everyone whether you're training for a race, wanting to get faster or you just want to burn some extra calories.

Interval Training
Interval training is one of the best ways to increase your speed.  You're probably familiar with this term as you read about it in health and fitness magazines as it relates to burning extra calories.  In my opinion, it's one of the best things to do.

Many articles you read will suggest something similar to this plan:
Run 1 minute on 8 mph, walk 1 minute on 4 mph.  Repeat for 20 minutes.

While this is ok, I don't think it's as effective.  When you're working to increase your speed, you also need to work to increase your stamina.  While it's good to build up, staying with the same pattern constantly will not bring you the results you want.

When I run intervals, I usually do something like this.

Run 1 minute at 8 mph
Run 1 minute at 5.5 mph
Run 2 minutes at 8.5 mph
Run 1 minute at 6 mph
Run 2 minutes at 9 mph
Run 1 minute at 7 mph

or

Run .25 m at 8 mph
Run .1 m at 6 mph
Run .50 m at 9 mph
Run .1 m at 6.5 mph
Run .50 m at 9.5 mph
Run .1 m at 7 mph
Run .50 m at 10 mph
Run .1 m at 7 mph

I repeat until I've run the amount I want to run.  The reason I increase my speed when I'm running intervals on the treadmill is because when I'm running a race, I want my legs to be as good at the end of the race as they are at the beginning.  By increasing your speed over your run, you're doing just that.

Long Runs
Another way I've increased my speed in through long runs.  You've heard me say it before and I'll say it again, I have no desire in my body to run a marathon.  Not one little bit of desire to do that to myself.  I don't have the time to train and I don't want to run that far at one time.  With that said, I do like longer runs.  The longest run I've ever done was 8 miles.  I consistently run a 10K (6.2 miles) and 7 miles, but I haven't ventured above the 8 mark.  I think this is going to be my year to do a half marathon though.

When I started really increasing the distance of my runs {think 5K was my short run}, I started noticing a big difference in my speed.  If I can run 8 miles in 60 minutes flat (7'30 pace), I can run a whole lot faster than that in my 5K and 10K races.  

I'd also like to note that many times, my longer runs aren't planned.  Sure, I know the days that I am able to do a long run, but I don't usually go into my run thinking "I have to run 8 miles."  Running those miles because you're feeling good is so worthwhile.

Core Work
The final thing I'll leave you with is core work.  When I started consistently working on my abs, I noticed a change in not only my shape, but my strength and stamina.  Having a strong{er} core is beneficial regardless of your exercise goals.  

I'd recommend doing five minutes of ab exercises at least five days a week.  Ideally, you'll do core work everyday, but if I'm being honest and realistic, five days a week is great.

There you have them: my tips for increasing your speed.  It involves Interval Training, Long Runs and Core Work.  

Do you have any tips to share?

5 comments:

Sarah Tucker said...

Interval training is great! When I trained for my half we did a a lot of that. Also, for me, having someone to run with is motivating. I get so bored if there is no one with me. Hence why I would rather do aerobics :) I am excited to see if this is your year to do a half!

Perfectly Imperfect said...

I'm saving this post! Working on my speed is one of my main goals this year.

SEL said...

Interval training and cross training are so so so important to building strength, speed and endurance. My time on the elliptical was just as important as actually running.

Great post.

Jen said...

Thanks for the tips. John is trying to work on speed. I've told to do interval training. He doesn't listen. Men sometimes :)

Kelly said...

I was just looking for a good interval training workout online yesterday. I would love to be able to improve my times and I definitely need to build stamina. I will keep in mind the five minute ab workout everyday, too (I'm sure I've been slacking there). Thanks for the tips!