If you have running faster longer as a goal the most important tip I can give is to be patient.
Patience and persistence are the two more crucial attributes to champions in this sport because the results simply don’t come overnight.
They cannot be rushed.
The patient and persistent do damage while the hasty and impatient grow more confused, frustrated and tired.
It takes approximately 21 days for the body to adapt to the stress you place on it. - Jack Hazen, 2012 Men’s and Women’s Olympic Team Head Coach
This was the advice I received while being coached by Jack Hazen at Malone University.
The results of the workouts you do today will be evident in your racing weeks down the road, not in a day or two.
The hardest part is being patient enough to see the physiological adaptations from that training take effect in the way you race and feel.
If you are an endurance athlete running events from the 5K to the marathon distance running faster longer is the key to maintaining race pace.
Running Faster Longer In Your Long Runs
I talk a lot about it here at rundreamachieve.com, but think of how much stronger you will be as a long distance runner if you lengthen the amount of time you run closer to your goal race pace?
More control and leverage over your racing ability.
This won’t happen overnight.
If you want to branch your long runs out from doing 4 miles at race pace to 14 miles, obviously this will take some patience. The key is to break those long runs into smaller segments.
What do I mean?
For example, try doing 2×3 miles of that 15 miler at race pace.
If I were doing the same workout early in my training I would do the first 5 miles relaxed, then a 3-mile segment at race pace, 1 mile jog recovery, then back into another 3-mile segment with a 3-mile cool-down.
This is 15 miles total with 6-miles of that run at race pace.
You want to gradually extend the amount of time you are running at or near goal race pace.
So, early on it may be shorter segments whereas later you can do the entire 6-miles at the same pace with the same 1-mile recovery between 2, 6-mile sets.
You have not only run 15-miles building your overall endurance, but you have taught yourself to handle the distance with 6 miles thrown in at race pace. The key is always going to be you training to handle ever increasing amounts of fatigue along with running faster longer.
You have graduated from doing 2, 3-mile sets and can now do 2, 6-mile sets. A total of 12 miles, rather then 6, at goal race pace and that, I promise you, will make significant progress in your race efforts.
You will be stronger, more confident and relaxed at race pace. The opposite is not preparing well enough, feeling worried about your race and wondering if you can hold the pace.
You always want to experience more pain in training then you ever want to feel in the race. If you have prepared well enough in training the time to be most confident and relaxed is during the race.
Let the others worry about that, not you. You have done your homework so go out and ace the exam. Does that make sense?
You are teaching your body to handle higher levels of lactic acid without the slow down effect so many other runners experience.
They experience it because they have not trained the body’s energy systems effectively, not because they don’t have the drive or focus but because they have not done their homework where it counts most.
Why this matters?
You have done far too much work not to take this seriously.
You can do everything else right and still miss it. Racing is more then just mileage and too many runners get hung up on this.
Running faster longer is what all the past, present and future runners understand fully.
Emil Zatopek, one of the all-time greats and three-time Olympic gold medalist puts it like this.
Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast – Emil Zatopek, 5000m, 10,000m and marathon Olympic champion
Success in distance running events come not from running many miles slow but running many miles fast with razor sharp precision. It isn’t just about running fast miles either.
There are many runners who understand and train fast.
The real success comes in the rest and how you train on the recovery days. It does you or I no good to go out and brag of a great workout if we don’t have the discipline and fortitude to back off on easy days when we need to most.
What is meant by this?
Have you ever done a hard workout on the track and the next day your out running with a group of friends and you realize the pace is too quick?
What usually happens?
Is it not that we usually continue on to finish with the group? We can’t slow down. What will they think?
Who cares. You did the hard workout yesterday. To get results, it takes you being strong and confident and making the right decisions when they count most.
I can say with all certainty that my pasts self has surely been guilty of this.
I simply won’t allow myself to do it now.
It takes more initiative to back down when you know you should then to keep pushing when you know you shouldn’t.
What do you really want is what you should ask yourself.
Do I want to recover from the workout I did yesterday or continue to push on consecutive days and not get the return on training investment that I am seeking.
Running Faster Longer In Track Workouts
A great way to learn to run faster longer is to implement it on the track as well. Some of my favorite longer workouts are done on the track when preparing for the half and full marathon and they far exceed the pace I want to hold in the marathon.
I am currently beginning my training to try to break the 2.15.00 marathon barrier at the 2013 Chicago Marathon.
A 2.15.00 marathon equates to a 5.09 per mile pace. This is going to take a monstrous effort on my part to try to earn.
The best pace, per mile, that I have held at the marathon distance is 5.19 per mile so I have to teach myself to handle running 10-seconds per mile faster than I have ever raced the 26.2 mile distance before.
I wanted to share with you some of the workouts I aim to do so that perhaps you can implement some of them into your own routine, at your own goal race paces.
2×4 miles at 4.55 per mile pace with 1-mile jog recovery.
This is running at approximately 15-seconds per mile faster than goal marathon race pace and the recovery is short. A mile run in around 7-8 minutes between the sets.
It doesn’t provide a lot of recovery but the goal is to get the heart rate back down to around 120 beats per minute before going back into another 4-mile set. Obviously, this is a extremely difficult workout but the key is to learn to handle paces faster than the paces you wish to hold in the marathon.
…and to also realize you may not be able to hit it right off the bat. It may take a couple more attempts. They key is getting the workout in. If it is 20 seconds off your planned pace early on, so be it.
The faster you train below goal race pace the easier and more controlled race pace is going to feel. So let’s say you want to hold 8-minute mile pace for the half-marathon distance.
If you are running 8×1 mile repeats on the track at 6 minutes per rep, what is 8-minute mile pace going to feel like for you?
I can guarantee you, 8 weeks from that workout 8-minute pace is going to feel like you are jogging.
The challenge comes early on in the training when a 6-minute mile feels like a sub 4-minute mile, like you are sprinting the entire way.
The beauty of this sport is that when the athlete is willing to endure and understand the long-term work involved, the results can be positively staggering because the body always responds to the stress you place on it.
If you train anerobically (without oxygen) often enough and take recovery as seriously meaning you jog on your recovery days just like some of the world’s best do, you are going to see some massive drops in your personal best times.
You could have a half-marathon best of 2.10.00 and go out and run a 1.40.00 in one race. You understand the importance of not only race pace preparation but training at paces that exceed the pace you want to hold in the race.
You will get no breaks in a race so what you have to do, over time, is maintain the paces you are trying to sustain in the workouts and gradually lower your rest times.
Early on in my training I will work to hit specific goal times for longer running reps such as 2×4 miles.
My recovery mile may be 7-10 minutes the first few weeks but over several weeks of doing similar workouts I want to aim to lower that recovery mile down to 6 minutes.
You will notice the difference in your fitness if you are patient enough.
10x1000m reps at 4.50 mile pace with 400m recovery at 6.00 mile pace (1.45)
Early on I will aim to hit these at 4.50 mile pace with a 400m recovery at or around 7.00-7.15 mile pace. The key is to gradually lower the overall recovery time and maintain the same pace of the hard bursts.
Your workout could be 10x1000m at 8.00 mile pace with a 400m recovery at 9.30 mile pace. You will want to, over a few weeks, lower that rest time down to 8.30 mile pace, but still be able to hold 8.00 mile pace during the harder reps.
The paces may be different but the work load and stress are equal. You are learning to maintain with ever-increasing amounts of fatigue.
You will start to do real damage on your old race bests and competition when you can maintain the same paces when everyone else around you is slowing.
This is where our media and magazines are missing it. They place importance on the fastest athletes when every athlete who is training seriously is putting out the same dedication, same focus, same attention to their athletic success.
They are the elites as well and deserve VIP treatment too.
Yes, if a male runner is running 2.10 and a top-3 world ranked female can break 2.21 for the marathon, they should get some perks, but a 3.30 male or female marathoner working at the same intensity should too.
I only wish I had the power to make that more evident to our commentators, news networks and media but unfortunately that is not the way it works.
The event is glorified at the highest levels when the process continues to be overlooked and misunderstood among those who are not in the trenches like us.
The True Key To Running Faster Longer.
You are teaching the body to use less carbohydrate and burn fat more efficiently. This is the key to running faster longer, period. If you can burn fat relative to your race speeds you are going to see massive improvement.
The faster we run, the more sugars (carbohydrates) are burned. What if we can turn the equation around, burn more fat stores (which we have a lot of) and conserve carbohydrates longer?
One, you will not experience the wall so many athletes deal with in these distances and two, you will run with more confidence and aggressively to the finish line.
Yes, you can still do everything right and still miss your time goals but if you plan your taper correctly and ingest enough calories and fluid during your 10K to marathon races you are going to race faster and feel more confident in so doing.
You will have more chances for success in reaching the challenging, tough goals then you would have had had you not trained like this.
I cannot stress this enough, be patient and persistent.
If you miss the time you want to hit during the workout, don’t think about it too long. You can’t bring that workout back. Let it go. Same with racing. Learn what you did right, what you did wrong but don’t let it control you.
You are in control, always remember that.
I cover a wide-range of topics having to do with running faster in these projects and these tools can help better assist you in your endurance and fitness goals.