1. Key speed sessions
If you're aiming to up your pace, start with a key speed session. Having a favourite speed or hard hill training session that you repeat every three to four weeks is a great motivator. You can use the session as a benchmark for your own progress. For example after six weeks or so, seeing if you run faster in intervals, or if your heart rate is lower on the hills.
2. Train less, run faster
Will resting more mean you can train harder and more effectively? This is a theory tested out by many in our increasingly busy, time-precious world. However, if you are training for a marathon, you will need to cross train to really boost your aerobic system and run faster.
3. Run slow to run fast
Building an aerobic base (base training) at a slow pace will help you run faster, but it’s something you need to be patient about. Most runners are too scared to run slow and worry about junk mileage - but high mileage does result in more ‘structural adaptations’ i.e. an increase in stroke volume of the heart, and a boost to the number of mitochondria, the cellular ‘power plants’ in our body.
Run good mileage, run slow and you will build a solid base of endurance. Running at a higher intensity will give you returns, but they are shorter term.
So plan your training to build that base in the first part of your schedule, and ‘sharpen’ up with race pace and speed work as your race draws near.
4. Threshold and tempo runs
Sustained longer intervals and runs up to 10-miles at threshold are an excellent way to help you adapt to running faster. This type of training boosts your lactate threshold, which put very simply is the point at which the muscles become ‘acidic’ as lactate and hydrogen ions are released into the body.
These runs are considered by many to be one of the key runs for marathoners. For a faster 5k you can run comfortably hard for 20 minutes to reap rewards, for marathoners, run between 8 and 10 miles, at a pace that is between your half marathon and 10k pace.
5. Think holistic
If your resting heart rate is high for two to three days in a row, it may be a sign of over training syndrome, or a viral infection. If you’re tired all the time, get your blood tested and check if you’re getting enough iron in your diet. Ensure you optimise your diet with foods to fight immunity in winter, superfoods and three good healthy meals.
6. Know when not to run fast
Running too fast when you’re older comes with a few risks. According to report published in The Wall Street Journal, and originally published in the BMJ Journal Heart: Running too fast, too far and for too many years can damage your heart. Researchers analysed 52,600 runners and non-runners over three decades.
Overall, the runners enjoyed a 19 per cent lower death rate than their non-running peers, but the runners who ran a lot (over 20-25 miles a week) did not. The message – everything in moderation.
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