Train to Run Faster

by Jana Peale

We’re gearing up for event season! Many of us are training for the Salt Lake City Marathon, Half Marathon, Wasatch Ragnar, or another one of the many events found on our race calendar. While running frequently will prepare you for the distance, it will not prepare you to hit a PR. To run faster, you need to train your body to actually run fast. So if you do have a time goal in mind here are a few workouts to put into your training plan.

Fartlek
1 mile warm up
2 miles 60 seconds slightly faster than race pace, 30 seconds easy
1 mile cool down

Fartlek, meaning “speed play” in Swedish, is the easiest way to insert speed work into a run because it can be done on the route you already planned on for your medium run and it is flexible. Most running watches have an interval timer that you can set to beep at you when each time interval is done, so you don’t have to constantly look at your wrist. The workout above is just one example of how to do it for a four mile run. You can make this last as long or short depending on how far you want to go and play with the amount of time you want to run fast and slow. If you feel like you cannot sustain the pace you want for the fast portion increase your rest.

The number one rule to remember is that the point of a fartlek is to play with speed. If you feel like the fast and slow portions are becoming the same pace, turn the easy part into a super slow jog or walk to make sure that the fast part is quality.

The Ladder
1 mile warm up
400 M
800 M
1200 M
1600 M
1200 M
800 M
400 M
1 mile cool down

There is nothing that makes me more excited to compete than hopping on a track and cranking out some good interval work! Doing a ladder is the easiest way to mentally get through a tough interval workout because it saves you from the monotony of doing the same exact distance a million times. This ladder adds up to four miles of “hard stuff” for six miles total, but like the fartlek it is completely adjustable to where you are in your training and the event you are training for. If it is a little too much, take out the 1600 meters. Remember, these are supposed to be fast, so make sure you rest in between each interval to make each one “count.”

Tempo
1 mile warm up
Tempo 5-25 minutes
1 mile cool down

A tempo run is something that is easy to do on your normal route, but don’t get me wrong, it is not easy. Tempo is probably my most dreaded workout, but it does get your body ready to run fast. This workout teaches your body to run through that point of pain. If you have never run a tempo before, pick a time that is manageable, like 5-10 minutes. If you have tempoed before, try for 20 minutes. With a tempo run, the thought of talking would never cross your mind. If you are training for a marathon, this should be around a 5k race pace and if you are training for a 5k, try for mile race pace. Now, do not feel like if you are training for a longer event, you have to do a significantly longer tempo. Let your pace do the work, not the time spent running or distance covered. I would not exceed 25 minutes when doing a tempo.

Progressive Tempo
Outdoor - Out and Back Run

Run at a normal pace for 2-4 miles, Turn around and run back faster 2-4 miles.

Indoor - Treadmill
Start at a comfortable long run pace
0-10 minutes: increase speed by 0.1 every 5 minutes
10-20 minutes: increase speed by 0.1 every 2 minutes
20-30 minutes: increase speed by 0.1 every 1 minute

A progressive tempo is the close cousin of the tempo, but a little more manageable. When you do a progressive tempo, you do not run as fast as a normal tempo, but you do teach your body to work harder after you have been running for a while. If you are running outside, just do an out and back run. Once you have hit your turnaround point, note you time and make sure you run back faster than you did the way out. Any amount faster is a success. The treadmill provides a perfect opportunity to do a more structured progressive tempo because you have a more accurate control over your pace. Treat every increase in speed as a reward for making it 5, 2, or 1 minute further along in your run and make sure to start at a pace you know you can significantly increase because by the end, you should be moving pretty quickly!

Incorporate a couple of these workouts into your training every week and you will see improvements in your speed. Training to run fast, makes you fast.

Great luck in your training!

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