The next step - less slow


On my normal day to day running route - a rolling 2.7 mile loop starting and ending at my home that goes through the village - I average anywhere from an 11:00-10:25 pace each mile. I'd like to make it standard of 10-10:25 on a normal run, but if I really push it, I want it to be in the 9:30-10m/mile range. Is that doable?

I hope so.

I know a few things need to happen:

1) I could stand to drop a couple pounds. Not in that "I need to be skinny!" way but in that "It's easier to run faster if you aren't carrying two extra bags of flour (those weigh 5 pounds!) on your hips" type way. My legs are strong, but they need some of the weight to go away. Take away 10 pounds, and I think I would be singing a very different song when it comes to my run times. Does this mean FINALLY committing to a diet? Not so much. As it is I eat pretty well, I just eat too much. It's all about portion control. Hrmph. I know I can do this - it's just committing to it.

2) Speed intervals - I have never been "serious" enough about by run times to integrate speed and interval training into my workouts. Thanks to the recommendation of a reader, Amazon will be shipping me my very own copy of the FIRST Method's "Run Less, Run Faster." I know there is some debate about the effectiveness of this workout, but here's my thinking as to why this may work for ME.

a) I'm only going to run 3 days, 4 days MAX per week. The system is set up to do 3 day a week run schedule with cross training on the other days. Perfect. That's my tri training schedule anyway.

b) I'm starting at a 10:30/11 minute per mile average. Surely ANYTHING will get me going faster.

c) I have never followed ANY program regarding speed. The only programs I have used are to get me up to a certain distance (Hal Higdon). I figure FIRST is a good a place to start as any.

3) Commitment. I am committed to making this happen. And sooner rather than later. Hubby and I would like to start a family sometime in the near future. Yes, I hope to come back to running and tris post kiddo arrival, but I'd like to hit a few more milestones so I can push myself to get back to that point of excellence. I don't want to say, "Well, I was running 11 minute miles before baby, so now it's fine if I'm at 12 minutes." Hells no. I want to be like, "I busted my butt before having this kid to get to a 9 minute average mile. I am not going to waste that effort, and I WILL get back to 9 minutes per mile." Maybe it's just all in the thinking, but I am really committed to reaching this goal.

That's my thought process anyway. To my readers, when did you start focusing on speed more than distance? Or did you always pay attention to improving speed? What have YOU done that helped increase your speed & endurance??


Big Daddy Diesel said...

1 Weight does factor into into a little, for every ten pounds of body, you use 6.5 watts of energy extra. Ex if you weighed 170, you are using 13 watts of more energy then a runner weighing 150 going the same pace, if you weighed the same as the other runner, that 13 watts of energy can be used to in run.

2- I spend all winter and spring building my base, once late May, early June hits, it is about building, mostly interval and speed workouts adding speed to my already built base. Also, are you doing running drills weekly? (butt kickers, high knees, side to side), improving your running form will also make you faster. Maybe consider some track workouts, sprint a lap, easy jog a lap. As you get use to that, you can increase the laps of sprinting.

3 - your a triathlete, 3x a week is enough, which allows you to get your other disciplines in as well.

You will do this, keep trying

T said...

Oh, I have a lot of thoughts on this. I hear you. Completely. (Except that I'm carrying around several bags of flour, not just one or two.)

FIRST off (ha ha ha!), I looked at the FIRST program a while back and was immediately turned off. It's not just incorporating speedwork; it's kind of an all or nothing. Worth checking out and the friends I know who've committed to it see mad results, but it seems sort of like the Atkins of running (not meant in the sense of controversy, but meant that you have to stick to it for it to work). Personally, I like to run for running's sake and I lack that discipline.

What the speedy runners in my life are telling me is that I need to run more to get faster. Just straight up more miles. I'm seeing it happen a little bit as I increase my mileage, but not quickly enough (I'm impatient!). And I'm running more or less as much as I can. Isn't it ironic that if I were faster, I could do this more easily? If I could fit 8 miles into an hour, I would - but instead I can only fit 5 :(

Emily said...

I'm soooo intrigued by this book you are buying. I'm EXACTLY in the same boat as you. My average running speed is 10-11:30 minute miles depending on distance and how I'm feeling. I can probably at my best bust out a 8:30 min/mile but that's for A mile. I feel like that awesome 9 min/mile pace is straight up running. I've got a half marathon coming up in Oct and would be off the wall excited if I finished under 2 hours. By some magic I finished my first half marathon in April at 2:08:46 aka just shy of a 10 minute mile and I have no idea how I did it!

I'm going to check out that book for sure. I've always thought I probably need to build leg strength cause upping my speed is when I start getting sore muscles after runs.

Oh and losing a few of those flour bags would also help...

liz said...

I'm glad you've decided to try Run Less, Run Faster. I am a big advocate of it because I am very prone to injuries and cannot run more than 3 times a week. What I love most about the FIRST program is that EVERY run counts. It focuses on quality, not quantity and you will feel great as quickly as your first run.

With that said, T is right. It does require a high level of commitment because you can't just skip a run whenever you feel like. The good news is that you won't want to ! The program will make you feel so good about yourself and your running that you will actually look forward to running ! This was huge for me because even though I absolutely love running, I started to feel a bit bored with it all. I was in a rut. My runs didn't have a goal or purpose and I had no way of gaging if I was improving.

I am confident that this program will work for anyone who puts in the time and effort. That is key. With that said, here are some tips which you're welcome to use (or not, up to you):

- The book is divided into 4 major running programs: 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. Even the 5k training plan is a bit intense for anyone who doesn't have a good solid base or experience with the FIRST program. For that reason, I opted to use one of the "intermediate" 5k training plan to start with. This is a good introduction to the program which will help you decide if it'll work for you.

I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, so feel free to leave me a message (I'm at speedvegan.com) and good luck ! I really hope it works out for you.

To answer your questions, I ran track in school but our workouts were short, fast and focused strictly on competition. My manic efforts to become a long distance runner started after college and were met with injury after injury after injury. Forget speed, I could barely run for months at a time. Then I met my wonderful boyfriend. He wasn't a runner but wanted to try it. Running with him was just the therapy I needed. Coaching him helped me build an injury-free base and then go from there. After finally completing my first marathon this year, I decided it was time for speed work and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. T's friends are right, increasing your mileage will help you get faster, eventually. At the end of the day being "faster" translates to being "more efficient" and you can certainly achieve that with longer runs. However, the FIRST Program will help tap your true potential as a runner which you can't really achieve by running longer distances at the same pace and it will do so in a shorter time frame to boot !

ps. I'm sorry this is so long ! I didn't realize I had so much to say on the subject. I hope you will find it helpful.

liz said...
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liz said...
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M said...

Emily, I am in the same boat as you. I can pound out ONE mile at 8-8:30 pace, but then everything after that suffers miserably. I don't have a snazzy Garmin, so I have no idea what my splits are - in fact, I am kind of curious. My guess is that my first mile is about 8:30-9, my second mile is more like 9:15-9:45 and my last mile (as it is the hilliest part of my route) is more like 11:45 or longer. Or I could be at 10 minutes a piece. I have no idea.

Tracy, I've never fallen in love with running. We have a love/hate relationship. I love the way it makes me feel - it's like a slay a dragon - this beast that taunts me. It is always a challenge. I look forward to the "victory" of defeating the run than I do the activity of running - if that makes sense. So if I can slay the dragon the faster, I will only be more thrilled. Is that a totally strange way to descrivbe my running relationship??? But I obviously lust after the whole process enough to have stuck with it for over 6 years now :-)

Liz, i will keep you posted (and all the other readers) on how this goes!!! Thanks for sharing your story!

SSB said...

Good luck on the getting faster. It's worth the work you have to do. Once you get past the first couple speed workouts they seem a little easier.

And I notice the speed come back faster the lighter I am. Plus I get injured less, so I can run consistently, which makes a difference. 3-4 times a week is good, as long as you do it week in and week out.