If you can run 5 or 6 miles, you’re ready to boost your speed and fitness.
Jennifer Van Allen (Google+)
Want to run faster? If you can complete up to 5 or 6 miles, you’re ready to boost your speed and your cardiovascular fitness.
Our Run Faster plan will ease you into track workouts to boost your leg and lung power – and your finishing time at the next 5K or 10K race. You’ll also develop a sense of “pace awareness,” that is, how your legs and lungs feel when you’re pushing the pace, which will help you avoid the most common racing mistake: going out too fast.
(Not ready yet? Try our Run Longer plan to help you safely build up from 3 miles to 6 miles.)
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you get faster.
Get a baseline. Get weighed and get your body fat measured so you have some baseline that allows you to track your progress, says running coach Mindy Solkin, founder of The Running Center, in New York. “It’s tangible evidence of your success,” she says. “Seeing those improvements really helps get over the emotional hurdle when you may not otherwise notice results.”
Run for the hills. Not away from them. Hills build leg and lung strength, and give you the foundation of fitness you need to get faster on the track. Once a week, incorporate into your run a variety of hills that take 30 to 60 seconds to climb. As you go up hill, try to stay relaxed. Keep your gaze straight ahead, your shoulders down, and envision your feet pushing up and off the leg, and the road rising to meet you. On the way down, don’t let your feet slap the pavement, and avoid leaning back and braking with the quads. That will put you at risk for injury. Try to maintain an even level of effort as you’re climbing up the hill and as you’re making your descent. Avoid trying to charge the hill; you don’t want to be spent by the time you get to the top. As you get fitter, add more challenging hills with a variety of grades and lengths.
Pick your pace. It’s important to make sure that you’re doing your easy runs and your hard track workouts at a pace that’s appropriate for your current level of fitness. To find your 5K or 10K pace, plug a recent race time into our training calculator at runnersworld.com/tools. No recent race time? Run a 5K or you can do a time trial. Here’s how: warm up with one mile of easy running. Then run four laps around the track – or one mile on a flat stretch of road – and note your time. Run one mile to cool down. Plug the time of your fast mile into the training calculator to get the appropriate training paces.
Get on track. Haven’t run track since gym class? Don’t be scared. Tracks are ideal for newbies; they’re flat, usually traffic-free, and the distance is measured. Here’s what you need to know:
- Standard tracks are 400 meters long.
- 400 meters is about one quarter of a mile; so 4 laps around the track equals one mile.
- Many schools open their tracks to the public.
- No access to a track? You can do speedwork on a treadmill or any flat, traffic-free road.
- A “Repeat” refers to the bout of fast running. For example, 4 x 100 @ 10K pace, the “repeat” is the 100-meters run at a 10K pace.
Don’t make up for lost time. Lots of people get hung up on running a certain number of miles per week, and if they miss a day or two, try to cram in extra miles. Going from a little running to a lot in short order is a recipe for disaster, experts say. “That’s when people get injured,” says Solkin. Stick to the training plan as best you can but when life gets in the way – or you feel fatigued or sore – it’s okay to put the workout off until another day, or skip it all together. Remember: a single workout won’t make or break your fitness; it’s the accumulated impact of fitness that you’ve built over the course of week or months that gets you in shape. But if you try to cram in miles in too short a period of time, you could get sidelined for weeks or months.
Stay well fueled. When you’re running faster, and going longer, you must make sure that you’re well hydrated and well fueled before you go out. Running on empty doesn’t aid weight loss; in fact if you’re energized you’ll be able to run faster (and burn more calories), and get fitter and faster. To prevent GI distress, try to stay hydrated throughout the day. Each day aim for half your body weight in ounces of fluids. So if you weigh 200 pounds, aim to consume 100 ounces of calorie-free fluids, like water. If you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces. If you’re going to be on the road for 75 minutes or longer, refuel carbs on the run to keep you energized. There are a variety of energy gels and chews on the market, or you can use candy or real food. Aim for 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour while you’re on the road. Even if you’re not hungry or tired, to prevent bonking, start fueling 20 to 30 minutes into the run and keep refueling at regular intervals. Try lots of different brands and flavors to figure out what flavor and blend gives you a boost without leaving you with an upset stomach. What to eat before you go? Stick with a low-fiber, low-fat meal or snack one hour before the workout. If you can’t stomach anything solid, particularly before you hit the track, you can have sports drink, or a smoothie. Try to keep it to 200 to 400 calories. Here are some ideas:
- 1 medium banana with 1 tablespoon of nut butter
- 1 bagel with jam or honey
- ½ cup Steel cut oats with skim milk topped with 1 cup of sliced strawberries
- 2 ox. Pretzels with 2 tabelspoons of hummus
Don’t discount your life stress. While exercise is a proven stress-reliever, if you start your workout frazzled or drained from your non-running life – say you are sick, sleep deprived, anxious about work, or you’ve been partying too hard – the workout is going to feel harder. Studies have shown that for people who were stressed out, workouts felt harder than they did for those who weren’t even when they were working at the same level of effort. Not only that but muscles took longer to recover.
Take good notes. As you add speed to your routine, it’s especially important that you keep a detailed training log, making notes about how far and fast you went, how you felt while you were out, the terrain, the route, and what the weather conditions were. A well-kept log will help you fend off injuries: if you see that your knee was achy a few days in a row, you’ll know to take a break before it becomes a full-blown injury. It will also help you avoid burnout. Say you’re starting to feel bored and less motivated to get on the road; you might see in your log that you’ve taken the five-mile route for three months. You’ll know it’s time for a chance. Be sure to make note of when you buy your shoes. Running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles, and worn-out shoes are a common cause of injury.
Copied from: http://www.runnersworld.com/the-starting-line/how-to-get-faster