Next month, I am going to head out to Boulder to take part in a training program so that I can be a certified run coach. I am super excited about it, and have been reading every running book I can get my hands on to prep. I figure that I’ll be in a room full of super smart running experts, so if I’m already aware of the major philosophies and plans people use, I will be prepared to ask better questions that will allow me to compare and contrast the programs. I have to admit that, initially, attending this program was all about helping MYSELF become a better runner. But, the more I learn, the more eager I am to use this information to help others reach their goals. I really believe that what I am learning can help everyone become stronger, faster… and less injury prone… runners.
At Power of Run, I recently created several small Facebook groups by interest so people can get help with goals and training. What I’ve found so far is that many people start with a solid program like Couch to 5K to get started running. Then, once they are running more than walking, they move onto one of the online programs like the Jeff Galloway plans (also very good). Many of the plans found in magazines or online are just the “sound bytes” though, the quick overview of that coach’s individual philosophy… so some of the things that take a runner from being good to great are glossed over online. There’s typically a speed day, a tempo day and a long run day, and the plan spells out daily and weekly mileage goals. And, that’s all fine and dandy… until you hit a plateau and are no longer reaching your goals.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking with other runners about running and endurance and speed over the past few weeks. Among the people I’ve been talking with, I see a few things missing from their plans. I’m going to create a series of blog posts out of this, so today, I will focus on SPEED TRAINING.
1) If you want to be faster, and once you can complete the 5K distance, one training day should be devoted to speed.
2) Speed work does not mean going all out. There is a science to how you improve speed (which I will get into another time), and this involves running at a challenging pace– but not at a pace that will leave you unable to complete the prescribed number of intervals, or at a pace that will leave your body so exhausted it compromises the effectiveness of your next scheduled workout.
3) To calculate the pace that is effective for making you a faster runner, you will want a current 5K race time. If you have not run a 5K recently, you will want to time yourself running a 5K distance. To make this even more accurate, you could also time yourself running a 5K, one per week, for 2-3 weeks, and average the times. Speed work is considered a key workout, one that takes a lot out of your body. Since it’s not an easy workout, you don’t want two speed days back to back– which is also why you would not time your two 5Ks in the same week. RECOVERY is a big deal when it comes to getting better!!
4) Now that you have your 5K time, go to the McMillan calculator online (They also have a great iPhone app called McRun that will do all the things the online version does for free. It all depends on if you want the info in your pocket or not!) Notice that the McMillan calculator can also calculate off a 10K, half marathon or marathon time. This works too, but your true 5K pace will be most accurate for training purposes if you plug in the 5K pace.
5) On the tab to the right on the online version of McMillan, you will see a tab that says “training paces.” Click on that to see the paces you should be running every type of training run. Note the 400 and 800 speed paces. Sticking to these pace ranges helps your body to adapt. Resist the urge to go faster. The ranges are part of the science of helping improve things like VO2 Max and lactate threshold.
6) Next, we take that number and apply it to some speed drills. Let’s say you run a 33 minute 5K. That would put your 400 meter goal at 2:16-2:24. If you are new to speed work, you want to start with a manageable number of sets and add one set each week.
A sample speed day might look like this:
10 minute run/walk/jog warm up.
Run 400 meters at your 400 meter training pace. Walk/jog 400 meters. Repeat 2 times. Build up to a total of 10 repeats per training session, adding one or two sets per week.
10 minute run/jog or walk cool down.
Some of the books I have been reading include:
You, Only Faster by Greg McMillan,
Run Less, Run Faster, which is a Runner’s World book by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr and Ray Moss. This one also has a great iPhone app to calculate training paces,
and Hansons Marathon Method by Luke Humphrey
I love them all! They all say the same basic thing about speed and quality runs. The McMillan and Hanson plans are based on higher run mileage. McMillan bases his on time on feet, where Hanson is mileage based. Both focus on the half or full marathoner.
Run Less, Run Faster has intense runs and high mileage long runs… but incorporates cross training, which would be hard to fit in if following the others to the letter. RLRF would be a good fit for someone who wants to continue moderate triathlon training while training for a marathon. And, this book also has 5K and 10K plans, as well as longer distance plans.
Hanson never does a 20 mile run, but the plan is all about running on tired legs. It’s high mileage and won’t be easy.
I will write more about each in the coming weeks, but also wanted to let you know about these excellent resources that will help you with your running! What about you? What plan do you use?