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How do I run faster for further?


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Last week we looked at how to run faster and went through a few key sessions you can use to speed up and build a bigger engine (Here it is again). Now let`s look at what we can do with that speed, how to fine tune your body to be more efficient, and your mind to be more resilient to the stresses needed to keep going for further.

Being able to run quickly over a short distance (we are talking up to a mile) is great. If you have this in the bank already then you are one step ahead, if not then I would suggest working on this first then building on it with the following type of training and sessions, otherwise it is like trying to fine tune a donkey, when, with a bit more work, you could be fine tuning a racehorse. Now nothing against donkeys:they are very strong and have big hearts and incredible strength of mind, however with the best will in the world a racehorse will more than likely be able to cruise comfortably at a donkey’s flat out speed. So, create your racehorse first then let’s put the donkey heart and strength on top of that.

donkey-races-a-standardbred-at-historic-track

Don`t be a donkey!

What do I do with all this speed?

Ok, now you have it – you have got the biggest engine you have had before so let’s get to fine tuning with some training sessions. The name for these types of runs varies a little, as does the pace. They are often known as tempo or threshold pace and sit roughly between 10k and your marathon pace depending on the individual. You are basically running at a pace that is fast enough to create lactate or be uncomfortable: you can say a couple of sentences but not have a conversation. If you go so quickly that you can’t sustain it for very long or can only say single swear words, then you are creating more lactate than your body can deal with and going too fast!  For some it takes a bit of practice and it is often a sweet spot between too hard and just taking it too easy.

For the sake of ease and explanation lets call the high end of this pace threshold and the slightly slower end marathon pace. I prefer to go on effort and perceived exertion rather than minute mile paces etc. as we very rarely run on the flat, with no wind, in the same temperature and in the same physical condition. Min/mile pace is a guide but I would say not the absolute; if you can work from your exertion levels it will leave you much better equipped when racing and running under a whole host of different environmental conditions.

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We will be covering this and much more in January

What does it do?

Running at this pace is undoubtedly uncomfortable and depending on what you are training for has varying levels of discomfort, however it trains your body to deal with the discomfort allowing it to start becoming much more efficient at dealing with the stresses involved. If you can become more efficient at a faster pace then guess what? When it comes to running further and adding endurance on top, you can already go much faster with less effort.

I personally think this is a key training pace and very often overlooked or ignored. We get caught up in doing intervals because they are short and sweet, over quickly and convenient when running in groups, or we grind out the long sociable runs at that nice conversational pace. Doing threshold runs is hard in groups as it is quite a fine balance between too fast or too slow. They hurt and are not over quickly – I make them sound so good! But they do make a massive difference, especially if you have not done them before.

“Since moving away from being self coached Jayson had me focus on various tempo sessions. As i love half marathons this work out really is enjoyable, having the variation of sessions from Jayson as seen a steady improvement and seen my tempo threshold increase. Cant wait for next years races!!” Tony Holland The Ultra Runner Store man!

This man knows how to suffer - Thanks to Chris Haswell for the great pic!

This man knows how to suffer – Thanks to Chris Haswell for the great pic!

What to watch out for.

Don’t be tempted to run at this pace all the time on every single run. These types of runs do take it out of you and your body will need time to recovery and repair before being hammered again. If you do fall into this trap you may find that you can never quite get up to the pace or effort you want and start getting slower and slower – not much fun!

Build up the time you spend running at this intensity. It may feel tough at first but if you apply a steady amount of progression, you will soon find that not only your body adapts but your mind gets used to the feeling and you even enjoy it!

Enough of the talk: what do you do!

A very basic starting point for a threshold session could look something like this (Threshold being T):

15 min warm up, 10min@T, 5min@easy, 10@minT, 15 min cool down

Then as you improve progressing the time spent at threshold:

15 min warm up, 20min@T, 5min@easy, 15min@T, 10 min cool down

If you are working towards a marathon, then you could build up to longer time spent in the “effort zone” and mix between marathon pace (M) and threshold (T).

A medium level training run could be along the lines of:

15 min warm up, 20min@Mpace, 5min@easy, 30min@M, 10@minT, 15min@easy/recovery pace.

By breaking down the time spent at each effort and adding the easy pace between, you are still giving yourself time at these paces but having a bit of rest and limiting the stress a bit. It may not sound like much in isolation, but the key is being able to do these sessions consistently over a period, say 6 -8 weeks. Blowing yourself out in the first week will get you nowhere other than a place of frustration: better to be under-trained than over-strained!

I hope this gives you an idea of what to build on. As with most things I like to keep it simple where possible, and there are – of course – a lot of other elements to all of this running faster lark but the basic principles do apply. There are loads of great training plans out there with lots of variations on these types of sessions. It would be great to hear from anyone who has some favourites and how they feel they have helped.

We will be covering this and lots of other training tips and ways to help you get more from your training throughout all off our training camps – take a look for more information here

I will leave you with this inspiring clip of total suffering and all out commitment from Zach Miller winning the North Face Enduro:

Have fun with it and good luck!

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