Good morning! I’ve received a few emails lately asking about training plans and whatnot (spring race season is upon us, guys!) so I thought I’d take a break from street furniture and sunrise photos today to talk about SPEED. If you’re looking to pick up the pace, here’s what’s helped me become a faster runner over the years. (Keyword = YEARS. This stuff does not happen overnight!)
- Go to the track. Obviously, you’re not going to get faster until you start trying to run faster! When I ran my first marathon in 2009, I had no idea what I was doing and trained by simply running longer and longer distances at the same pace. I finished in 4:00. As I was training for my second marathon, I tried swapping out one regular run for one track workout a week. And then I finished my second marathon in 3:40. Related: Average length of a track workout, Rest periods during track workouts, Cruise-interval track workouts
- Change it up. One track workout a week will get you far, but if you’re serious about getting speedier, you’ll probably have to throw in some other tough workouts in your weekly training plan, too. When I was training for my last few marathons, I aimed for 2-3 hard/fast runs a week (with a one easy/rest/recovery week thrown in every five weeks or so). A peak training week would look something like this: Sunday off, easy run, or cross train; Monday 6-8 mile tempo or fartlek run; Tuesday easy run; Wednesday mid-week long run with a fast finish/striders at the end; Thursday track; Friday off, easy run, or cross train; Saturday long run. Those weekday speed workouts were tough (especially by Thursday, when I had to run on tired legs), but they definitely paid off! Related: TLT runs, strider workouts, hill workouts.
- Sign up for short races. This is something I definitely don’t do enough — but I wish I did! I know that I can push myself pretty hard during a solo track workout or tempo run around town, but nothing gets my feet moving like a real race :). When I had a running coach he encouraged me to sign up for a number of 5ks, 10ks, and one-milers to boost my speed.
- Cross train. It seems silly to think that not running can make you a faster runner, but it’s true! Somehow I seem to run less and less each training cycle and cross train more and more. And then my race times improve. I have no idea how it all works but I just know it’s true. For the past few training cycles I’ve been to the gym 1-3 times a week and focused mostly on Pilates-like exercises that target my core, glutes, and hips. Related: TRX for runners, yoga and running, strength exercises, bosu ball exercises
- Make fast friends. I think this is my favorite fast tactic of late! Since I moved to Nashville I made two really good running buddies who happen to be juuuust a little bit speedier than me. When I finish a run with Lizzie or Katie I’m always surprised to see my Garmin results — I must really like these girls because otherwise there’s no way I’d keep up with them. Having fast friends lets you push the pace without even realizing it because you’re having fun and chatting away.
And that’s all I’ve got! Bonus tip #6 is to go easy on yourself and have fun. Because really, life is too short to stress over your Strava account 😉
- What’s one tip you’d give to runners trying to get faster? (Bonus tip #7 from me would be to relocate to a hilly city like Nashville)
- Slowest race time? Fastest? (Slowest marathon is 4:00 in 2009; fastest is 3:20 in 2015)
- Least favorite race distance (I hate 10ks!)