The holy grail of running for me right now is speed. And optimum fuelling of course. But today I’ll stick to the topic of speed, as the whole what to eat and drink and at what points in a run or race to consume fuel is a minefield across which I have yet to cross without experiencing nausea, hunger or empty legs.
So speed. I’ve done a few races – two 21km, one 16km, one 15.5km, two 12km and a 10km – in the past 17 months and other than the 10km that I ran with a chest infection that bordered on pneumonia (not advisable), my pace has improved with each. But still, I want to go faster.
I’ve asked several seasoned (and fast) runners: How can I run faster? I’ve googled: How can I run faster? I’ve skimmed through magazine articles on running looking for tips. Every single answer has come back as a variation of: Interval Training.
So, over the past few months I have incorporated at least one interval training session into my routine, either repeat 400s or repeat 800s. And I think I’ve seen some benefits as a result. However, racing with yourself is hardly ideal. At least for me it’s not. Once during our vacation in Denmark, my husband ran 400s with me. At 6’4″, and with an innate fitness bolstered by a road cycling obsession, he definitely has at least two advantages over me when it comes to speed. Three actually, as he’s male which makes him faster too. Running with a gazelle made me run faster than I ever would on my own. Running with a gazelle in a Danish forest (fresh, dry air) made me run even faster than I ever would it hot, humid KL, alone or otherwise.
The point is, that speed work is best done in company. There’s nothing like a little competition to bolster your pace. So, last week I joined a weekly running clinic which, over the next 6 weeks, will not only provide me with expert coaching from a very experienced, successful runner, but also the opportunity to train intervals with others at a time when I’m normally too weary to even thinking of lacing up my trainers (the sessions are in the evening).
The first session was a 5km time trial which will be used as each runner’s bench mark for the coming weeks. It will also allow us to assess our progress when it is compared to another time trial at the end of the course. I ran my 5 km at an average pace of 4:50 min/km which is far, far faster than I’ve ever run 5 km before. The truth I have discovered is that I haven’t been doing my fast runs fast enough. I haven’t been pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.
Based on the 5km Time Trial, the coach has advised that when tackling 6-8 km Tempo Runs, my pace should be between 4:55 and 5:10 min. That for me is fast. On Thursday I managed this with 6 km. Just about! Still, I felt I’d made progress.
Of course my hilly 21 km run yesterday was a bit of a disaster compared to usual so I clearly have to commit to speed training in the long run to see results in the long run 🙂 Mind you, I think the heaviness in my legs for my last 5km might have been a result of running on empty. Yes, that darn fuel issue. I still haven’t got the answers on managing that.
Irish expat writer and mother-of three who discovered a passion for running at 40. Since 1993, has lived in the Aberdeen, Houston, Singapore, Manila, Oslo, Kuala Lumpur & Perth, Australia. Athletics Australia Certified Level 2 Advanced Recreational Running Coach. 16 Half Marathons and 2 Marathons...so far.