Speed Work To Boost Your Running Pace
Running faster once in a while can result in running faster all the time – here’s what we mean
We all want to be faster runners. But what does “faster” mean?
There’s a different between sheer speed, and speed endurance. Unless you run track and field events, sheer speed isn’t much use to you. What you want is speed endurance – that’s what will help you be a faster 5K runner or even get a marathon PB.
Speed endurance means the amount of time you can run at close to maximal speed, whilst staying relaxed and not busting a gut. It’s not sprinting until your legs burn. It’s running faster than normal, for a sustained period.
How To Train Speed Endurance
To get better at speed endurance, you need to train your aerobic capacity and your running economy. This means doing strides, hill sprints, and short bursts of speed in your training runs. The aim is to gradually bring your normal/comfortable running pace up a fraction, so your base line is faster than before. From there, you can push on when you really need to without feeling unable to cope.
Think short bursts of faster running (around 30 seconds) within longer runs to force the adaptation in your body.
When To Use It
Speed endurance work is at odds with pure endurance training to a great extent. If you try to develop speed endurance at the same time as building up mileage, you will be asking your body to do two different things. So either block out part of your training year to work on speed endurance, or wait until you’ve completed the base phase of a training plan – then add in some speed endurance work.
Why Do It?
Speed endurance work will ultimately help you run faster. This means your training mileage will take less time. You’ll have faster race times. And new PBs. But there are benefits to the body, too. Better speed endurance means you’ll expend else energy to go at a faster pace. And the training boosts your cardiovascular health, helps burn more calories, and will help you shed any excess body fat (especially if you’ve got to a frustrating plateau).
When you have some clear time in your race diary, dedicate 4 weeks to speed endurance training. Here’s a good way to start (assuming you already run 5+ times a week) – replace 2 of your weeks runs with these sessions.
Week 1: 6 x 20-30s fast hills sprints, 2 minutes easy jog recovery (twice in this week)
Week 2: 6 x 20-30s fast hill sprints, 1 minute recovery.
Week 2 (2): 8 x 20-30s fast hill sprints, 1 minute recovery.
Week 3: 6 x 20-30s fast flat sprints, 2 minutes recovery
Week 3 (2): 8 x 20-30s fast flat sprints, 2 minutes recovery
Week 4: 8 x 30s fast flat sprints, 2 minutes y recovery
Week 4 (2) 10 x 30 seconds fast flat sprints, 1 minute recovery
To maintain your speed endurance gains, do 1-2 sessions of sprints (6-8 reps either flat or hills) per week.