The most commonly asked running question is 'how can I become a faster runner?' Today let's spend some time talking about the need for speed!

Stephanieruns Fitness

July 22, 2018 Newsletter

The need for speed! How to become a faster runner.

One of the most popular running questions is 'how can I become a faster runner?' You've probably heard you should run faster to become a faster runner. Today I want to take a holistic look at our need for speed and talk about components you can add to your training program to help improve your overall running pace. I believe that runners need to do more than just run. Which is why I'm a big supporter of balanced training plans. Balanced training plans will also help you become a faster runner.

First let's look at some of the running workouts you can add into your training to become a faster runner. The first thing you probably think of when you think of  speed workouts is track work. These are workouts where you run fast, recover and repeat usually on a track. Tempo runs also help you become a faster runner by letting you practice running at a faster pace (usually your 10k race pace) for a longer distance. You might not have thought about hill repeats when you're thinking about increasing your speed but there are actually some interesting studies that compare track sprints with hill sprints for improving your running speed. Common sense would tell us that running fast up hills takes more work than running on flat ground which would give us more 'bang for our buck'. Fartlek is every runner's favourite word. It means speed play and is when you vary your speed between fast and slow. Fartlek's are easy to do on your regular running route by varying your pace.. Progression runs are where you start at a slower speed and every set time/distance you increase your pace eventually getting to your max pace. The progression run helps you with speed and pacing practice. Even your long slow run will help you become a faster runner by helping build your endurance.

Each running workout has a different pace and purpose. As a runner you don't want to run the same speed/distance on every run. When you balance out your running workouts everything comes together to make you a faster runner. Send me a message and let me know if you're adding these runs into your training program.

I did say runners need to do more than just run. Perhaps two of the most overlooked ways to increase your running speed is strength and flexibility workouts. Strength training will give you muscular strength, power and endurance. If you're a long distance runner you need the muscular endurance and strength in order for your body to be able to support your running form from the start to finish line. You can think of it this way. If you don't have the muscular strength/endurance to support your running form, your body will probably droop forward. This will make you less efficient and slow your pace. Strength training will make you a stronger, faster, more efficient runner.

Flexibility training works on your range of motion and mobility. Runners need range of motion and mobility in order to run more efficiently. Runners are known for having tight hamstrings, which can not only slow you down can also lead to injury. My favourite flexibility workout is Essentrics (they also have a show on PBS called Classical Stretch). Essentrics workouts work on every muscle in your body and focus on strengthen your muscles in the eccentric muscle contraction. As we age mobility becomes even more important. If you want to keep running in your 60's, 70's, 80's and beyond you should be working on mobility now!

Now you know more about workouts you can do to increase your speed let's get into a couple of specific sample workouts for you to try on your own. Remember you should always consult a doctor prior to working out.

Track Workout: After a dynamic warm up including some easy laps around the track run 200m at a fast pace about a 9/10. Slow down to a slow run or quick walk for a full recovery. Repeat this 8-12 times followed by a cool down and stretching. If you haven't done speed work before you can do less reps.

Progression Run: After a dynamic warm up settle into your long run pace for 5 minutes. Every 3-5 minutes increase your pace slightly (but still a noticeable amount) until you are at your max pace. Run at your max pace for a minute or two until you are fatigued and then slowly lower your pace until you're back at your long run pace. Stay at your long run pace until you have recovered and then start your cool down.

I hope you enjoy these sample workouts. You can always modify them to make them work for you! I also hope this makes you think beyond your speed workouts when you're working on the goal of increasing your running pace. I'd be happy to cover strength training to increase your running speed in another newsletter. If you have any questions send me a message.


Weekly Challenge: Speed Workout

This week I’m giving you a speed workout to try. I'm hoping most of you already add speed work into your training plan. Use this workout (and modify it if you need to) to switch up your speed work and try something new.

This workout is a Fartlek workout. Fartlek means speed play. First do a dynamic up. This newsletter has an example of a dynamic warm up. Fun fast for 30-90 seconds followed by 2-3 minutes of slow run recovery. If you prefer you can also use markers on your route such as trees or lamp posts. After 30 to 40 minutes of speed play start your cool down.

I recommend doing a speed specific workout once a week. Give this a try and let me know how this goes. If you have any questions or need help please send me a message. I’m happy to help!

Do You Run Stairs?

Do you run up stairs? If you work in a tall office building or live in an apartment you have access to a great workout. Running up stairs is a great workout and will help improve your running speed.

First do a dynamic warm up then head to the bottom of your staircase and start climbing. Go up as high as you can go. Once you get to the top you have two options, slowly go back down the stairs and use this time for recovery or walk to recover, and take the elevator back down to start again. Never just stop, you need active recovery before you start climbing again. Try to do 30 minutes of running up the stairs. Your first couple of workouts you might only make it 15-20 minutes, and that's okay work up to 30 minutes and beyond.

Running up the stairs will help strengthen the muscles in your legs while working on your cardiovascular system. This means when you head out to run after doing stairs regularly it will be easier to run at a faster pace. Let me know if you run the stairs!

Next week's newsletter will be all about your hips! I've had a couple of requests to cover the hips in more details so if you have any specific questions please send me a message!

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Let's keep the conversation going all week on social media! 


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Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program. This newsletter is not medical advice. Medical advice should be sought from a medical professional. Stephanieruns Fitness assumes no liability for any injuries or damages as a result of the above content.