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The fastest way to get faster

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The fastest way to get faster Empty The fastest way to get faster

Post  Penelope on Sat Aug 20, 2011 10:34 pm

After a really long break from running, I'm now getting back into it since July. I'm about to jump from 5 miles to 6 miles as my longest run this year, which tells you something about how out of shape I was. I'm about a minute per mile slower than I used to be for easy runs and comfortably harder runs. And I'm sick of being slower.



I know that as I continue to run and build miles, I'll get into better shape and get a little faster, but in the meantime:



1. Is it possible to sort of train your body into running slowly? If I run all my runs at my new, slower pace, will my body just adapt to that as my slow pace and everything else will always feel harder? More or less, is it possible to get into a pace rut from running too many miles too slowly?



2. What type of speedwork is most likely to help me bring down my overall pace? I know it's not a good idea to mix speed and building miles. But, the way my work schedule is set up, it makes sense for me to focus on shorter running every other week, alternating with building miles every other week. I was planning to do a speed workout once or twice every other week, but not sure if tempo runs /fast continuous runs, or some sort of intervals, or fast finishes, or some other workout, will help me get faster in the least amount of time.
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Post  Stephanie on Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:18 am

Hi Penelope! I too am coming back after a long lay off from running and because of the nature of my injury I had to start back at square one and also noticed any speed I used to have was gone. As I added 1/2 a mile at a time to my "long" run, I kept to my slow pace and tried not to look back at my old paces and after awhile without any other change other than increasing my mileage, my speed started improving. While I am not entirely back where I used to be, I feel it is just too early to start speed workouts in any fashion until I have a good solid base and my body is back used to running for a long time. Speed work too early into my running comeback was one of the major factors that led to my injury, and lo & behold everyone who told me "increase distance or intensity but not both at the same time" were totally right. Oh if only I had listened.

The only thing I am doing right now when I feel 100% is some fartleks during some of my shorter runs. I'll pick up the pace for a minute or two every 10mins or so, and I only do this by feel or when the mood strikes and never during a long run. Maybe this is something that would help you and you would enjoy. It would add a mix to your running without the added risk of speed work too early into your base building phase.

I know it sucks to be slower than you used to be; I am going through what you are feeling too. We'll get there. We just need to be patient with our bodies and respect the process. As for the rest of your questions, I look forward to what our resident experts say.
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Post  Diego on Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:32 am

There's a lady named Veronica Billat that has shown that performing a 5 x 3 minute repeats at vVo2max twice a week along with the "slow miles" is the best technique to improve your speed. vVO2max is the distance you can run in 6 minutes all out. This research conclusion is a combo of both Billat and Anderson.

You don't have to run this workout first. You can start with 30 seconds followed by a 30 second jog and repeat until you just can't run that speed any more. This is her orginal research. Usually, this takes about 9-20 repeats. Then, go up to 1 minute, 2 minutes, etc., until you can handle the 3 minute repeats.



http://www.trifuel.com/triathlon/bike/interval-training-the-scientific-way-000885.php

The key is the lactate stacking that raises your lactate threshold quickly(even more quickly and efficiently than a tempo run).

The only other thing you need is a twice a week 90-120 minute slow run at 70% of your aerobic capacity(easy speaking run).

I got her info off Owen Anderson's Peak Peformance web page and will try it the last 6 weeks before Portland.

Owen Anderson finished 3rd in the inuagural Chicago Marathon and has a PhD in exercise physiology.



For those who live in Michigan, he is also the director of the new Lansing Michigan Marathon to be held next Spring.
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Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:36 am

I'll add a +1 to what others have said. I noticed that just by my body adjusting to the mileage during my last marathon training, my easy paces started dropping about 20-30 seconds/mile. When that happened, I started doing some progressive tempo runs and they went very well for me.

Keep in mind that a 30sec on/off sprint interval is more or less doing strides, which is what I was going to recommend. Do them at the end of an easy/recovery run, and only do a couple at first. Like 4-5. Gradually accelerate up to full speed (or 90% of it) and hold that for 5 seconds/around 8-10 footstrikes (count on only your left or right foot, not both), then smoothly decelerate again. This will vary from the VO2max workout in that you'll let yourself fully recover. It will get your legs used to the speed before forcing your body to cope with it as well. Once the speed itself is comfortable, then start taxing your body with the longer intervals mentioned above.*

*Note: this is just what I would do, as I suck at high-end speed and would flame out VERY quickly just jumping into structured intervals.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:16 pm

You will adjsut to mileage, and I can tell you that doing what Jim suggested works. After a couple of layoffs due to injury, I would always come back to running by spending a couple of months working back up the mileage and my pace owuld naturally get a bit faster as my body got more fit. Then I would add in fartlek workouts like 1 min at 5k speed/1 min off (6-8 repeats) to 2 runs a week, then three, and then once this felt good, I did longer intervals and then eventually went back to speedwork.
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Post  Liz R on Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:31 pm

I like the idea of just running at first. Get in shape, get to 20 miles a week or so, then start doing some structured runs where you try to run faster. What is "get in shape?" It depends on your goals. I think of it as running 4 to 5 miles at a time and thinking nothing of it (but not looking at pace, just being able to cover this distance with no strain).

Now I do fall into the habit of running slowly all the time if given the chance. To get faster, I have to take myself out of my comfort zone, whether by doing strides or intervals or tempos.

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Post  Penelope on Tue Aug 23, 2011 5:03 pm

Thank you all for the opinions. It looks like everyone agrees that I'll get faster naturally as I up my miles, but that doing some fartleks / strides every so often would be the safest way to throw in some speedwork while I build miles.

The other thing I'm realizing is that I need to lower my expectations. I'm not sure what my definition of being in shape is, but whatever vague notion I have of it is, I know I'm nowhere near it yet. Just today, I ran 6 miles, and after my chocolate milk and shower, I was so tired from it, I took a 90 minute nap--on top of sleeping in this morning. So I have a long ways to go.
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Post  John Kilpatrick on Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:12 pm

Don't sweat it. To some people, running 6 miles would be a lifetime achievement. It will just take a little time and it will happen - your doing fine - enjoy the ride!

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Post  mul21 on Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:30 pm

Kathy, don't feel bad about the shape you're in now, enjoy getting back to where you were. When I started running again about 3 1/2 years ago, I could barely get through 2 miles without stopping and some days I did have to stop and walk. It was monumentally frustrating for me after having been a relatively good distance runner in high school. I'm just now finally getting back into the shape I was in a couple years after college when I went back to running for 6 months. It just takes a little more time as we get older, but if the ability is in there, time and hard work will bring it back out of you. I'd never run a 5K in more than 19:30 or so and I finally just got back under 20 this spring. Granted, I got about 30 pounds over weight and didn't run a lick for about 7 years, so I'm sure you don't have nearly as far to go as I did!

And I agree that strides and fartleks are a good way to go for speed work without getting injured or frustrated.
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Post  Mark B on Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:34 pm

Hey Kathy! Even the guru of low heart rate training, Phil Maffetone, talks about the benefit of doing some uptempo/anaerobic work in conjunction with the long, slower training that does such a great job building your aerobic system.

You can read about it in his books "The Maffetone Method" or "High Performance Heart," but in a nutshell, he suggests running intervals (not necessarily all-out) to build muscle strength and anaerobic performance. He argues that such training is best done only after a few months of low-intensity (low heart rate) training, and in only one or two workouts a week. Still, he said that sort of training can prevent you from becoming "anaerobically deficient" and can lead to speed improvements not just at the higher end, but also when you go back to the lower intensity work later.

You can find either of those books on Amazon.com. You can usually pick up a used copy for a few bucks (I saw one of the books used for a penny!). It might be worth exploring.
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Post  Ben Z on Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:47 am

@Penelope wrote:Thank you all for the opinions. It looks like everyone agrees that I'll get faster naturally as I up my miles, but that doing some fartleks / strides every so often would be the safest way to throw in some speedwork while I build miles.

The other thing I'm realizing is that I need to lower my expectations. I'm not sure what my definition of being in shape is, but whatever vague notion I have of it is, I know I'm nowhere near it yet. Just today, I ran 6 miles, and after my chocolate milk and shower, I was so tired from it, I took a 90 minute nap--on top of sleeping in this morning. So I have a long ways to go.

Yes.

And I would also add that you should pay attention to your diet. Now that you are back running more your body is craving healthy carbs. Probably more than you think. Lots of tools out there to calculate caloric intake based on your activity level so take advantage of them.

For me personally I know that unless I am eating 200-400 calories every two hours or so, plus three square meals, I will be lethargic. This equates to about 4,400 calories/day. So you gotta eat if you are going to run! (and that's pretty cool)
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Post  Stephanie on Wed Aug 24, 2011 12:39 pm

@John Kilpatrick wrote:Don't sweat it. To some people, running 6 miles would be a lifetime achievement. It will just take a little time and it will happen - your doing fine - enjoy the ride!
+1 The fastest way to get faster 424776184
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Post  Julie on Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:09 pm

it will come but if you do it carefully to avoid injury it will take a little time. My best way of getting faster is pushing myself once or twice a week by running with a faster friend then I feel badly asking for a walk break so it's harder than I'd go on my own accord.

You'll get there!
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Post  Dave-O on Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:04 am

Its a tough question to answer.

First, I don't think you can train yourself to run slowly, or get in a rut. No matter how slow you're running, you're still gaining the pysiological benefit of creating additional capillarization and mitochondria. This will increase your body's ability to deliver oxygen, which will in turn lead to you being able to hold a given pace at a lower heart rate.

That being said, even as a strong proponent of high, easy mileage, I recognize you need some uptempo work in your weekly routine. You need to build the muscle strength and dexterity to run fast. As others suggested, strides are a great way to do this. After a few runs each week, run 8 sprints. Nothing fancy; just run hard for 10-20 seconds. Focus on your form and really pushing off with each stride.

I also think you can start pushing the pace on some of your runs. There's a wide range between "easy" pace and "tempo" pace, and anywhere in that range will result in a strong aerobic run. I'm thinking like 80% effort - harder than long run pace but still not a "speed" workout.
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Post  Penelope on Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:18 pm

Thanks for the additional replies and input. I'm glad to know I can eat lots of carbs without feeling guilty Smile Seriously, that's been an issue because I've been working on weight loss, too. I started out 20 lbs heavier and have lost about 5-6 so far. Weight loss and running are hard, but it never occurred to me until now that weight loss and speedwork may be incompatible.

It's also reassuring to know that my body isn't going to get used to being slow / stuck in a rut.



I guess for now, I'll accept myself for where I'm at and keep working at building miles. The weight and speed issues will probably resolve themselves, but because I need to feel that I'm in control, I'll probably do some strides at the end of some runs, or maybe pick up the pace in the final mile of each run or something.
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