Work it, make it, do it, makes us
How can you run faster? By running faster? It’s not necessarily so.
I was started running by jogging and walking and was soon up to an hour of constant jogging. I played cricket so I wasn’t completely unfit. I entered the local half and finished just outside 92 minutes. My wife, Sue, worked with a more serious runner and she invited me to join her and her husband on their regular Sunday long run. It was 12 miles long and I loved it and quickly realised that this particular run should be the basis of my weekly training routine.
This didn’t seem enough for me so I dipped my blistered feet into running club life. I’d finished with cricket, for the first time! I loved running and this was more than filling any void. My, now, running was all at a similar pace. Pleased with my improvement, every run was at the same pace. Not necessarily fast but the same. Almost race pace every time and thinking that was the way to improve.Then one February evening my running changed forever. I felt like I had suddenly been shot in the outside of my knee. From flying I was spiralling down to Earth in flames. Ilio Tibial Band Syndrome. I had a good running posture but I was running too much and at the same pace.
I was out of action for many months but this gave me time to think logically about my running. I needed a plan and it worked with some brilliance.
The Sunday long run had to stay. It’s the cornerstone of running. A regular long run of 10 miles or so gives the stamina to complete any distance up to the half marathon and is fantastic aerobic exerise. This type of physical activity increases the heartrate and promotes increased use of oxygen in order to improve the body condition.
Introduce some speedwork or hill training for anaerobic training, or short bursts of engery. Speedwork would be very basic. Modest fartlek, Swedish for speed play. I would run street lamp posts alternating sprint with jog recovery. Near where I lived there is a road of about 300-350 metres length of steepish climb. 5 or 6 reps of that at a hard pace was enough. I would run one of those sessions once a week. It doesn’t need to be a long session. Just enough to wake up those fast twitcher muscles and get you breathing heavy.
Second to the long run was the recovery run. Around 3-4 miles of slow jogging at at least 2 minutes a mile slower than race pace. This was the run to think of posture, form, relaxation, stride length and to flush any lactic acid build up away. This is when energy levels are high and glucose is broken down and converted to concentrations of lactic acid which the body can’t process quickly enough. This is the heavy leg feeling we get after a race or intense session.
Simply put. Mix it up. Try different sessions each week until you find what works. Don’t run the same all the time. I’m no expert but I learnt quickly. I’ve not been injured since and my race times were okay. Embrace a slow recovery run.