How can you run a mile fast

Speed ​​training and speed exercises while running

Speed ​​training: How do you train speed and speed while running? It is clear from the responses from the running community that the uniform definition of the term “speed training” has been lost - and that it is obviously difficult to find it again.

Speed ​​training and speed exercises while running

When we recently asked 5 runners to define the word "speed training", we received the following answers:

  • “Good speed training includes 8 200 m runs on the track; here the speed should be well above the competition speed; There is a 30-second pause between the intervals. "
  • "For me, speed training consists of 3 speed runs of 1 mile each (approx. 1.6 km) in hilly terrain with an approx. 5-minute break between the intervals."
  • “Speed ​​training consists of 400 m or 800 m intervals on the track at a speed that is slightly higher than that of a 5-kilometer run. In between is jogged 400 m. "
  • "My speed training consists of 10 100 m runs at almost maximum speed, with a 1 or 2 minute break between the intervals."
  • "Speed ​​training? I just run my usual 4 miles (6.5 km) faster than usual. "

Did you notice that the 5 answers with regard to the two key factors of speed training - the actual running speed and the training distance - do not match at all? Rather, all runners only agree in their understanding that the speed should be above normal for speed training.

When should speed training be done?

Even when we asked when the speed training should be done, there was little agreement among the runners. One runner said, "In the 4 weeks before my most important competition." Another said: "Actually all year round." And the next said: "During the competition season."

Even more disappointing was the fact that the athletes had not set a goal for their speed training. So they couldn't explain to us how exactly their speed training would make them faster at their preferred distance. They just assumed that the higher speed with occasional faster training runs would, as if by magic, also come into play in their competition runs.

The how, what and when must therefore be discussed. The confusion around speed training is really sad. This is because most runners have relatively good endurance (that is, they can run at a moderate pace for a long time). However, they are still at the very beginning when it comes to realizing their speed potential. When it comes to endurance training, they are really big. B. when setting up training runs. However, they lack a good system to develop their speed further.

How should endurance runners do their speed training?

So how should endurance runners do their pace training, when should they do it, and how should it vary by type of runner? To answer these questions we have to take into account that pace training is performed at or even above the competition speed and that the specific purpose of pace training is to increase efficiency, flexibility and coordination, muscle strength and thus running speed.

At the same time, however, we must also remember that speed training must be tailored to the individual runner. A marathon runner has very different requirements than a runner who is preparing for a 5-kilometer race. A speed training must be adapted to the competition needs of the respective runner.

How useful is interval training when running?

This fact has become more and more apparent in recent years when observing the speed training of various runners. Some of the things we saw with runners while doing this really shook us! So we have z. B. observed marathon runners who have completed 400 m interval runs in 75-78 seconds as speed training with the aim of running the mile in just under 7 minutes!

This pace training only deserves its name in one way: the runners ran faster than they would ever do in a race. And only increased the risk of tearing their hamstrings to pieces. Once we asked the runners: “In your opinion, why should a 400 m run in 75 seconds - that is about 5 minutes for a mile - help you achieve times of 6: 50–6: 55 in a marathon to run?"

When the runners stammered that it would somehow help them get faster and that their new agility would make them run the marathon faster, we simply asked them when exactly the training speed of 5 minutes per mile would be used. Would you be used on the 10th mile? At the 15th? Or about the 20th mile? Or maybe on the final spurt on the home straight - although your glycogen stores should be as good as empty at this point?

What is the marathon running pace?

In reality, this speed would not have been used again until the next speed training session. These short “sprints” over 5 minutes would help you with the next 5-minute workout. However, it wouldn't enable you to run 26 miles at a 6:55 pace. The speed difference is simply too great.

The point is that pace training should help you run faster in the race, not just in practice. If you run fast just for the sake of running fast, that pace is pointless. It makes far more sense to choose a speed for speed training that you can transfer to the competition situation and thus use accordingly.

Transfer the running pace to the competition situation

Given the capabilities of a marathon runner, if you were training for an 800m run or a mile, the 400m run would get you something in 75 seconds. However, this training is not suitable for a marathon. The marathon runners ran the 75-second intervals at almost maximum speed. The neuromuscular patterns and the physiological generation of energy take place completely differently at these high performance intervals than in the marathon.

In order to prepare well for a marathon, the speed at the Lactate Threshold Speed ​​(LTS) must be increased as much as possible, and sufficient speed endurance must be built up to run the entire race at only 2-3% below LTS. True enough, the 400m excursions at 75 seconds may have improved running efficiency a little.

However, this would have been increased much more significantly at a speed close to the maximum and not at a speed that almost corresponds to the marathon speed.

What is the appropriate speed for pace training?

The concept of the appropriate speed for speed training always reminds us of how Yobes Ondieki prepared for his world record run in the 10-kilometer distance a few years ago. In his special training, Ondieki split the 10 kilometers into several intervals and ran them slightly below the respective world record time. Between the individual intervals he paused only briefly, lasting a few seconds.

He wanted to adjust the overall intensity of the training as much as possible to the intensity during a world record run. Since he recovered in training between the intervals - which he couldn't do in the actual race - it was important for him to run the individual intervals just above the world record time. In this way, the speed, which was higher than actually necessary, and the breaks should cancel each other out and thus simulate an overall performance that corresponds to that in a 10-kilometer world record race.

Ondieki's speed training

In fact, after setting the world record, Ondieki told us that he found the actual race to be a little easier than his training. Of course, this was also due to the fact that he had chosen a training speed that was slightly above the speed required for the world record over 10 km. He gradually got so good at this speed level that the world record speed seemed comparatively easy to him. Ondieki's pace training was not done at full or extremely high speed, but it was quite simply appropriate for the needs of his competitive use.

What does the optimal speed training look like?

Let's look at the matter in a little more detail. When should you do your speed training and what should it look like, taking into account your specific running distance and your desired fitness level? What is the optimal speed training for a marathon, a 10 or 5 kilometer run, etc.? Below are the most important key questions and their answers:

At what point in the training season should the speed training be completed?

Many runners complete slow endurance runs in the aerobic area for most of the training season and combine these with some speed training and occasional weight training to build up strength. A few weeks before the start of the competition season or before the “big” race, these runners throw in a few shorter and faster training runs in the hope that this will turn them into really fast “running devils”.

Training approach on an aerobic basis

This traditional approach is based on the assumption that constant endurance running forms a good basis for faster speed training, which only starts at a later point in time. Furthermore, the traditional approach of limiting speed training to relatively short, clearly defined training phases is based on the common notion that speed training leads to burnout, overtraining and an increased risk of injury in runners. The conventional training approach on an aerobic basis with subsequent speed training has 4 problems:

  • While this approach is beloved by both coaches and runners and endorsed by many really successful coaches, there is no evidence that it really works better than a training plan that involves speed training over the entire training season - or at least over longer periods of time .
  • The long phases of basic training that precede speed training get runners used to running more slowly. It is of course true that the connective tissue is strengthened by the basic training, but at the same time muscle strength is also reduced - not increased. The monotonous basic runs also restrict flexibility and mobility of the joints - with negative consequences for speed. The subsequent speed training must therefore be used to regain the lost speed and not to build up additional speed to a significant extent.
  • Endurance runners need to develop and build speed gradually. Limiting the speed training to only short periods of time prevents the individual runner from being able to fully exploit their speed potential.
  • Per se, speed training does not lead to overtraining and an increased risk of injury. Problems only arise when the speed training is overdone.

Increasing the speed is a complex process

One should always remember that increasing the speed is a complex process that is controlled by the brain and the nervous system. Of course, a runner's leg muscles need to contract faster at a higher speed. However, the brain and nervous system must also learn to control these faster movements efficiently.

In order to achieve the best possible results, it is therefore important that you do at least some speed training throughout the year. If you keep up some form of speed training year round, your brain and spinal cord will not lose the "feel" for running fast and will not have to relearn the appropriate control mechanisms later.

That doesn't mean you have to do intense sprint or pace training sessions on an ongoing basis. Runners who are not gifted with an innate “talent for speed” should, however, value some speed training throughout the season.

At what point during the training week should you complete the speed training?

When your muscles or nervous system are exhausted, tempo training is difficult to perform properly. Your muscles will have trouble functioning above normal levels, and your nervous system will not be able to control the muscles optimally either. Therefore, it makes sense to do speed training after a recovery phase or after light training.

Therefore, speed training units are usually scheduled for the beginning of the training week: for Monday, if Sunday was a day of rest, or for Tuesday, if there was a race on Sunday and Monday was used for relaxation. It doesn't make much sense to schedule pace training at the end of the week when you're feeling tired.

Running fast when you are tired increases the risk of injury

Some runners disagree, arguing that in order to achieve "speed endurance" (the ability to run fast for a long time) it is important to work on speed when you are feeling a little tired; this is the best way to simulate the actual competition situation. For runners who want to improve their speed kick at the end of a race, it is important to train to run fast even when they are exhausted.

In exercise, however, running fast when tired increases the risk of injury and changes the pattern of muscle recruitment (the way muscles are activated by the nervous system). As a rule, the special neuromuscular processes, with the help of which the speed can be optimally increased, are not activated during training. Therefore the speed cannot be increased optimally either.

When should the speed training be carried out within a training session?

Obviously, it would be best to start speed training at the beginning of a training session, immediately after the warm-up session, when the neuromuscular system is still fit and sensitive to stimuli. The remainder of the training session should be of low intensity and can include B. light, aerobic running or other appropriate exercises, such as light loosening or relaxing stretch exercises.

What types of speed training should be provided?

Many runners get bored with tempo training because they keep it on the track for a series of endless repetitions. This boredom then leads to a lack of concentration, which in turn makes it difficult to perform the pacing exercises properly with correct neuromuscular coordination. Often the solution is to get off the track and make the speed training more varied. Here are a few options.

Training plans for effective speed training while running

  • Run above your normal speed on a gently sloping path with a 2–3 ° gradient (approx. 60–90 cm gradient over a distance of approx. 27 m). These leisurely mountain runs can increase your running speed by 10–15%. It often also happens that you continue to run 5–10% faster than normal when the path has long since become level again. A steeper gradient could increase your speed further, but at the same time leads to a significant change in your running movements. That would be bad, as this change would make it difficult for you to transfer the increased speed to normal, flat running.
  • Integrate interesting competitions with fast sprints into your speed training. There would be B. "Mini-Soccer" - on a small field with cones or hurdles as goals and 2-3 players per team. Other options would be “Capture the Flag” or “Ultimate Frisbee”. These short, 15 to 20-minute games can be played immediately after warming up; they hardly require any equipment, are not boring and offer runners an excellent opportunity to run faster than normal.
  • Conduct reaction start training. You need at least one other person; in fact, it is more fun when several other runners participate in the training. Basically, you and your running colleagues can take any starting position on a sports field: on your stomach or back, with your head forward or back, in the push-up or sit-up position, kneeling or even sitting.Then a trainer or a volunteer who is about 50 m away from the training group whistles, claps or shouts, giving the signal to everyone to jump up and run towards him. The running speed should be slightly above the normal competition pace. Repeat these exercises several times, each time from different starting positions. It would also be good if the trainer was on a different spot on the field each time they start so that the runners would have to quickly change direction as soon as they start.
  • Occasionally run races shorter than your normal competitive distance. So you could e.g. For example, a few weeks before an important 10-kilometer race, run a 5-kilometer race at your target speed for the 10-kilometer race. This pace would mean a personal best for you if it were extrapolated to the 10 kilometer race. If you do a 3 mile race at this target speed, not only will your neuromuscular system learn to work at a higher level. You will also get confidence that you can handle this pace in a competition.

Which speed training is suitable for marathon runners, 10-kilometer runners, 5-kilometer runners, 1500-meter runners, etc.?

The naming of the "best" training is always a dangerous matter because different training measures produce different effects. It depends e.g. For example, it depends on what stage of training the runner is in and how he or she reacts to different efforts.

Nevertheless, there are a few training sessions that will help most runners with their final preparations before a big event (e.g. the last two months before a competition).

Tempo runs on the mountain

Find a steep slope that is at least 50 m long from the bottom to the top. Complete your exercises with appropriate repetitions. If you run a mile, the effort should be just above that of running; if you run a 10-kilometer race, it should be more strenuous than the race. When you get to the top, jog back down and start over.

Repeat the runs only a few times during the first workout. Gradually increase the number of runs until you complete approximately 8-10% of your weekly training distance as incline runs. This workout will make you a much more powerful runner, and strength means pace!

Walt Reynolds and Owen Anderson