If you feel the need-for-speed, you obviously need to train faster to race faster. Short bursts of speed (never all-out) can improve your physical performance in many areas including:
- Muscle capacity.
- Heart function.
- Oxygen delivery.
- Running mechanics.
- Coordination of body parts and muscles.
More importantly, speed workouts can improve your mental performance as you see yourself as someone who:
- Can continue when tired.
- Can handle any setback.
- Can improve.
- Can overcome physical barriers.
- Can become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Has confidence and a positive mental outlook on running (and life).
However, speed workouts increase the risk of physical injury (if you try to do too much, too soon, too often) and mental injury (if you let your ego or negative emotions takeover). The only way to prevent these injuries is to listen to your body and mind … adjust the workout if you feel physical pain or are experiencing negative self-talk.
Strive to find enjoyment in every speed workout … especially the tough ones! There is nothing more satisfying than “nailing” a speed workout session.
If you are between the Learn to Run program and the Marathon club, you have some options for the next step. If you just enjoy running and have no urge to “race”, then just enjoy running. Be mindful of changes to your running intesity and volume by not doing too much, too soon, or too often. A good rule of thumb is to limit your changes to 10% per week (how fast, how often, and how many miles).
If you want to improve your running:
- Set a running goal such as entering a race, keeping up with a friend/spouce, or running faster than your dog or 10 year old.
- Choose a training plan that incorporates your current fitness abilities, running goal(s), and a strategy on how to fit this into your busy calendar.
- Consider joining a formal or informal running group that meets your specific training needs.
- Attend running clinics or camps to learn more about proper running technique and drills.
- Read running books, magazines, and online resources for inspiration and training strategies.
For assistance with any of the above, consider the services of a personal running coach.
If your running goal includes setting a PR (personal record), then you need to make changes to your previous plan – if you had a “plan”. Most runners will see progressions early, without much planning or structured training due to starting at a PR of “zero”. You should see quick gains from your body getting efficient at moving at a faster-than-walking pace through muscle and limb co-ordination. Then expect some advances in your cardiovascular fitness with regular outings. At some point, you will likely plateau and to “get faster” you will need to add some structure to your running efforts – things like speed intervals, hill repeats, tempo runs, and the long slow distance runs. Most off-the-shelf training plans that include 3 days per week of structured running will take you to the next level of PR.
To advance past this intermediate level of running, which may be getting you into the top 5 of your age group in local races, you will need to step-up to “training with a purpose”. This is where every workout has a purpose to create a training-effect on your body. The key is to prescribe the “effective dose” of training without pushing past your limits towards injury. To balance between loading and over-loading the body, the right amount of recovery/rest needs to be inserted. All of this is unique to you.
So how do you get there? First, you need to understand your current fitness level and abilities. Set a realistic goal based on your expected fitness gains and lifestyle. You also need to understand your safe-load-level (training miles per week and running/rest days per week) along with the type of workouts that are easy for you and the ones that are a challenge. Add to this, strategies for improving the “weak links” in your running to become a better athlete.
Please contact me to be a strategic partner in your running success.
Do you want to take your running to the next level? Are you in a running rut? Do you need objective and honest feedback from a running mentor?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may benefit from a running coach. A coach can:
- Design a customized training plan based on your current fitness level and future goals.
- Integrate running drills to improve running strength, economy, and injury prevention.
- Develop a race plan with detailed pacing and fueling strategies.
- Recommend appropriate cross training activities based on fitness level and schedule.
- Introduce you to new training methods and workouts.
- Encourage you to listen to your body’s feedback.
- Help you find the optimal balance between training stress and recovery.
- Work with you to reach your running potential.
- Provide a breadth of experience and knowledge.
Please contact me if you need a Running Coach. I am eager to contribute to your running success.
Coach Dean Johnson