RUN FASTER WITH JUST 3 WORKOUTS A WEEK
Whether you are an experienced marathon runner or a self-admitted couch potato, improving your pace can be far more of a challenge than improving your stamina. It is well known that a healthy lifestyle combined with practice will improve your cardiovascular health, subsequently allowing you to run better for longer.
However, there is also a misconception that running as often and as far as possible is the best way to train, especially if there is a half or full marathon looming. Yet this is certainly not the case.
In fact, overexerting yourself by running 10 miles every night of the week can often lead to chronic injuries and unwanted lethargy.
This is why many fitness professionals and experts are recognising a less is more approach. While this may seem counterintuitive, by reducing your mileage and working on your form, rhythm and other factors, you will quickly improve without damaging your body in the long run.
This approach will also give you time to improve your running pace. Finding a consistently fast pace can be fairly difficult and the first few weeks of focusing on pace improvement can feel exhausting.
However, there are a number of ways to ensure that you avoid adding stress to your body whilst also becoming a faster runner at the same time.
First things first, spend time getting your weekly schedule right. This means that intense running work should be limited to just three days a week. These three running sessions should then be split into three separate approaches; speed work, tempo work and endurance work.
Between these three days of intense running, you should intersperse three days of light strength and cardio work and one rest day.
So, how do these three intense running approaches work?
Firstly, your speed day requires you to run a series of intervals at a high intensity without draining your body of energy. Essentially, if you are running a series of eight sprints with intervals in between, you want to perform as well on the eighth sprint as you did the first.
In terms of distance for each sprint, it really depends on what you are training for. Prospective marathon runners may want each sprint to be ½ mile long, whereas beginners may want their sprints to be just 100 metres long. Be aware that just because the term sprint is used in this instance, it does not mean that you need to strain yourself to reach top speed. Consistency of speed is the key here.
Your tempo day requires you to run a middle distance on a comfortable surface, keeping the same pace throughout. Again, it is important to ensure that your speed can remain consistent throughout your run. For example, if you are running three miles, ensure that each mile is run at a similar time. With more and more practice, these mile times will become almost identical, which essentially means you have perfected your tempo.
Finally, your endurance day involves running a longer distance at a low-to-moderate intensity. For example, a good measure would be to run a 10-mile circuit at 30-40% intensity. This distance can increase gradually as the weeks go on but should never be attacked with maximum effort.