A couple of years ago a runner asked me a question at the fun run. “John what is the best way to become a faster runner?” My answer, “The best way to run faster is to start running faster.” Simple, but true. The defined training name and action of running faster is called “Speed Work.” The way to become more comfortable and to improve running economy is to engage in the specific endurance training called speed work. The profound wisdom says, by running at faster speeds, you become more efficient at running at slower speeds.
Without getting too technical, speed work adapts the body to a more comfortable race pace. For example, when you’re performing speed work, you are pushing the body harder than your average race pace, then when engaged in an average run or a marathon your pace efficiency feels more comfortable and easier. Speed training develops the fast twitch muscles which improves your leg turnover providing a faster pace.
OK let’s get just a little technical here:
Speed work is performed at a shorter distance and faster pace. The goal is to increase our VO-2 max. VO-2 max is simply the body’s ability to convert oxygen into energy more efficiently. This action helps the heart deliver more oxygen while the leg muscles increase their efficiency in using this added oxygen. This process is also called the maximum oxygen uptake. Bottom line: the better the VO-2 max the faster and longer a runner can go in a race. The more oxygen your muscles are able to consume while engaged in the run, the stronger the energy levels are put into the muscles allowing the body to move faster and longer in distance.
The following speed workouts are designed for the development of ultimate speed in the 5K. The Benjamin-Ross 5K is approaching, so these two exercises are dedicated to helping you be at top performance on race day. The two workouts will also be the topic at the next upcoming speed clinic held at the Woodbury track.
- One Mile Repeats– The one mile repeat is an advance speed work session that WILL (if performed correctly) get you ready for a great race. I call this the magic speed work because this workout performs wonders and accomplishes your race goal. Track preferred, but a measured one mile stretch is ok. Begin with a one mile warm-up then three to four one mile repeats at top speed or just below 5K PR pace with a two to three minute slow jog or walk recovery in between, then ending with a half mile cool down. Warning this speed work will put you to bed early! Please stretch and eat your recovery meal immediately after this work out.
- Ladders– Start with longest distance and work your way down to the smallest distance in multiple or twos. Perform two one-mile repeats with 3 minute recovery. Three minute recovery then perform two 800s with 2 minute recovery. Two minute recovery then perform two 400s with two minute recovery. Two minute recovery then perform two 200s. Then perform your cool down and end with stretching.
Everyone has what it takes to put the work in in preparation for the Ben-Ross 5K, let’s go out and do it!