No matter how hard I train, it's pretty likely that I will never be as fast as Olympic runner Usain Bolt, or any of the Olympic runners for that matter. But, it doesn't mean that I can't work on my speed! Same goes for YOU! I recently came across a "tip of the day" on Hal Higdon's Facebook page that really hit home to me. He suggests that all runner (beginners especially) should be learning how to push themselves, especially while running shorter distances, in order to achieve peak performance.
While I was training for both marathons, I pretty much ran the same speed through all of my training runs. It wasn't until a particular 13.1 mile run towards the end of my training that I even thought to myself, "I'm going to run this as fast as I can." Imagine my surprise when I was able to complete the 13.1 mile run in under 2 hours. That was a speed about 45 seconds/mile faster than most of my training runs! I'm now doing a lot more speedwork, and I'm noticing a HUGE impact on my pace. I also recommend hill work, because similarly to speed work, you are pushing yourself to the max for a shorter period of time, building up your strength, just like in our Push-up Challange. Check out some varaitions on speed and hill work below (for both treadmill and outdoor running lovers)! I recommend doing one of these workouts 1-2 times each week to increase your speed.
Intervals for time - Break up a 5 minute interval into two sections, starting at 2 minutes and 3 minutes. Start by running at a faster pace than you normally run (maybe even a sprint) for 2 minutes, then slow down to a jog or a walk for the remaining 3 minutes. Repeat this for 6 total intervals, for a total of 30 minutes. Try to do this workout once/week, increasing either the speed of your faster interval or the portion of your 5 minutes that you are running at a faster pace (or both).
Gradual increase - This workout works especially great for treadmill runs and for people who listen to music while running. Start out at a comfortable pace, maybe a little slower than your typical running pace. Each time a new song comes on, increase your speed (by 0.1 on the treadmill). In a 30-minute run, you should increase your speed about 5-6 times, so make sure you start at a speed fast enough so that you'll finish the run faster than your typical running pace. Each time you complete this workout, start out a little faster than the time before.
The "commercial" challenge - If you're like me, you like to watch TV while running on the treadmill. Start out your workout at your normal running pace, maybe a little bit slower (0.1 or 0.2 mph slower). Every time a commercial comes on, increase your speed by 0.5 for the entire commercial break. Return to your casual running speed when the show comes back on. Each time you complete this workout, increase your "fast pace" by 0.1 mph. A pat on the back for you if you can keep this up for a 1-hour long show!
Hill intervals - Find a big challenging hill (or make one on the treadmill). Run up the hill as fast as you can (ideally for about 2-3 minutes). Walk or jog back down the hill. Turn around and run back up it again, as fast as you can and walk or jog back down again. Repeat this for 30 minutes. Try to run uphill faster each time you complete this workout.
- 1 minute - Incline at 2.5
- 1 minute - Return to zero incline
- 1 minute - Incline at 5.0
- 2 minutes - Return to zero incline
Repeat this 5 minute interval for a total of 4 intervals and finish with a 5 minute run. Each time you do this workout, you can either increase your speeds or inclines or add a 5 minute interval to make your workout longer.