When the time comes in your training that you want to race faster times, you will need to run faster on your training runs. Well, duh!
If you have been reading my columns over the years, you should be familiar with the different speed training terms I’ve used like tempo runs, fartlek runs, interval training, and repeats. These various forms of speed training come after one has built a solid training base.
For novice runners, you may need six months to a year before you get into serious speed training. For more experienced runners, you may get by with as little as two months of base training before interjecting speed training, depending on the racing distance.
The 5K is still the most popular road racing distance, but whatever distance is your favorite at racing, speed training will make you faster. If you have specific time goals, then it takes specific speed training to maximize your efforts.
Many runners these days use a blend of the previous-mentioned speed training terms. I believe runners who are new, or do not have a training group, can best benefit from speed training that is results-based.
By results-based, you set your time goal for your race distance and speed train accordingly. For example, say you are trying to run 25:00 for a 5K. That figures to an average of 8:00 per mile. When it comes time to get in your speed training, here are examples of what your workouts may look like over the course of two to three weeks:
• 3-mile tempo run in 25:30
• 2 x 2-mile (16:20) with six minute rest
• 3 x 1-mile (7:50) with 4:00 rest between
• 6 x 800m (3:50) with 2:00 rest between
• 12 x 400m (1:50) with 1:00 rest between
The 3-mile tempo run is set up at 30 second slower per mile for your race pace. The intervals get progressively faster as you shorten the distance and the rest. The concept is you are training at a specific pace time that prepares you mentally and physically. I like to mix the intervals up so that you are doing long and short intervals each week.
Start out with two speed training sessions per week for three weeks, then go a week with three sessions, then go back to two sessions for a week and finally do one speed session before you test yourself with a race. You may need to get in six to eight weeks of speed work to set yourself up for that big race.
If you have done the speed training at your intended goal pace, you should experience successful results in the race you have trained. Once you have completed your racing phase, take a few days to recover and start the cycle over with base mileage, followed with speed.