The #1 question I have heard is “How can I make my pace faster and my mile time better?” My answer to this is INTERVALS. I have found interval training to be beneficial in many ways and has helped me shave time off my mile, improve my endurance, and made me a better runner in general. Often times when training for races, people fail to incorporate speed and/or hill workouts. This is, to use a buzzword, an epic fail. Sure, standard training programs that gradually increase mileage are effective, but they do not best prepare you for race day. Incorporating speed and hill intervals into your training will boost your overall performance and ability to perform at your BEST on race day.
Speed intervals can be done on a track or a treadmill. There are several different ways to approach speed intervals, but start off basic. Start out by doing a 5 minute warmup… Then jog at a steady state pace (5 out of 10) for a minute, and then crank it out to a full out sprint for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, bring it back down to the steady state pace for another minute, and then- yep you guessed it- sprint again for 30 seconds. Do this 2:1 ratio for a total of 20 minutes.
Once you’ve mastered the basic interval, you can change it up by doing 1:1 intervals, or speed workouts of varying lengths. I found a GREAT article that gives several examples of speed workouts for runners of all levels.
Hill intervals can be done on a treadmill or on your neighborhood hill of choice (pick a tough one!) Start out by doing a 5 minute warmup, and then attack the hill. My favorite hill workout is the following “pyramid” which has 8 sprints of varying length. Remember- always sprint 100% up the hill, and slowly jog back down for recovery:
1) sprint up 1/4 hill (3.0 incline on treadmill)
2) sprint up 1/2 hill (6.0 incline on treadmill)
3) sprint up 3/4 hill (9.0 incline on treadmill)
4) sprint to the top of the hill (12.o incline on treadmill)
5) sprint to the top of the hill (12.0 incline on treadmill)
6) sprint 3/4 hill (9.0 incline on treadmill)
7) sprint 1/2 hill (6.0 incline on treadmill)
8) sprint 1/4 hill (3.0 incline on treadmill)
Do a 5 min jog cooldown and call it a day!
Other questions I’ve been asked have to do with shoe type and pre/post run eating. To answer the first question, I suggest that the first step in race training should be a trip toMarathon Sports, City Sports, or a similar store. Find a sales associate who KNOWS footwear and who can help you analyze your foot pronation type (if you don’t know it already) and fit you with the appropriate shoe. It is also helpful to inform the sales associate that you are training for a race so that they may take into account how many miles you’ll be logging/week.
In regards to pre/post run eating, check out my blog that outlines just that!!
Training for an event of any type is a GREAT way to keep on track with exercising regularly, and sticking to a program in order to achieve a goal. Get a friend to commit with you and sign up for a race/event and then use each other as motivation to train regularly. Races of all types and distances can be found at Runners World
Lace up those sneakers and hit the pavement!