Improving Speed

Monday, September 19, 2016

To improve your running speed you need to train:

  • a minimum of 3 sessions per week
  • at least 20 – 30-minutes per week
  • for a period of at least 6-12 weeks 
  • 1 – 3 training sessions per week need to be Quality sessions

For training to benefit you on race day try to train on a similar surface, in similar weather and with similar intensity and duration as the event.

The simplest way to measure intensity is to measure your degree of effort using a scale from 1 to 10, where resting is 1 and 10 is your maximum effort.

Increase gradually

The most important factor for improving speed is to gradually increase the training load.  The body adapts to increases slowly so be careful not to increase training too often or overtraining/injury will shut you down!

Every 1-2 weeks you can increase the training intensity, duration and frequency by 5 - 15%.  If you're fairly new to running, just start with a low training load that suits your fitness.

Quality sessions

Quality intervals are between 4 - 20 running bursts at full race speed, or faster for distance, of between 10 m and 2 km - separated by recovery periods (rest, walking or slow jogging). The Intensity/Level of Effort is 5-8.

The recovery periods between are rest/walking for sprinters and walking/jogging for middle/long distance runners. For sprinters, recovery usually needs to be about 2-5 times the length of the working interval. 

But for joggers the recovery period should be equal or less than the working interval. Quality runs can produce a greater physical training effect than Threshold runs.

Threshold/Tempo runs

15 minutes – 45 minutes run at near lactate threshold/turnover - the point when lactate begins to build up quickly in the blood owing to the exercise intensity being pretty high.

Hill repeats
These build the strength you need to improve running speed. Do about 5-15 repetitions up hills with a light to moderate incline of between 50 - 400 metres.  Recovery is a walk or light jog back down the hill.

Run up the hill at race pace and lift up your knees higher than normal on the repeats to improve your strength faster.
Fartlek training

This combines the above training methods, a typical Fartlek session would be a Tempo run for 10 minutes, followed by slow jogging, 3 - 4 hill repeats, and 6 - 7 intervals.

My final advice is be careful, be consistent and be first past that post!

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