Getting Faster

While we were marathon training, my friend and I discussed that we wanted to finish the marathon, but after that, we wanted to focus on our other running goal – running faster.  We’ve often dreamed of a sub-2-hour half-marathon finish, I have been hoping to run a 5k in under 27 minutes, and I really want to beat a 1:30 ten miler time.  I also dream of being able to run with my speedy husband, or my speedy sister.

I’m signed up for two more half-marathons this year, and I’m running both of them alone-ish.  My husband is running one with me (along with a few friends), but mostly, I’m not running them with any of my runner friends.  We are talking about having children eventually, and I don’t know how many more opportunities I will have to run half-marathons, especially considering the chances that I have a bad race are pretty high, since I’ve had a lot of not-great races lately.

I’ve been saying for years that I want to get faster, but I’ve never actually wanted to put in the work.  Last summer I went to local track workouts during the summer a couple of times, and I think it would be helpful to go to those again this year, but it kept being REALLY hot (like, 105 degrees), and I don’t do well in heat.  So this year, I decided to use the best tool I have for speed training at my disposal – my treadmill.

I have a love-hate relationship with my treadmill.  The treadmill was great when I didn’t belong to a gym, but I mostly would just load up last night’s daily show, walk on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes, and then call it a morning.  I hate-hate-hate-hate running on the treadmill.  It is sooooo boring.  I know I’m not the only one that complains about this.

So I rolled out of bed the week after the week after the marathon, and I started interval training.  In track workouts, we had started by simply running one track loop really fast, and then recovering for about 2 minutes, then running another loop fast, then recovering.  I decided to adopt this model, sort of, and so I ran .25 mile sprints, and then recovered for about .125 miles.  On my treadmill, this is manifested by a loop graphic that shows where I am on some imaginary “track”, so I run a full one of those, then I recover for half of one of those.  My first few training runs were done at a level 7 or 7.5 pace, with recovery walking at a level 3.5 or 4 pace.  I’ve now stepped it up to intervals at a level 8 pace, with slow jog recovery at a level 5 pace.  My regular running pace on the treadmill is between a 6 and a 6.5, to give you an idea.

I’m not sure yet what the long-term effects will be of this training – I’m hoping both my ability to breathe and to process lactic acid will improve, but I’m not sure yet.  I’m encouraged that last week I managed to run about 2 miles straight at an 8:30 pace, but my long run over the weekend had me running at more than 10-minute-miles.  I need to be doing more long runs with my super-speedy friend E., or perhaps with my watch so I can keep an eye on my pacing.  I will say, absolutely, that interval training has improved my relationship with my treadmill.  I no longer hate it.  I love it for making me push myself so hard, and the intervals make my workouts much more interesting.  I’ll be putting together a speed-running playlist soon, which I will share here (suggestions welcome).

Does anyone have any suggestions for other interval workouts I should be trying?  I think longer sprints are in my future.

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1 Comment

Filed under Exercise and Fitness

One response to “Getting Faster

  1. Andy

    a) Do women become incapable of running half marathons after childbirth? Does this cover all distances, or only halfs?
    b) Alison does a couple kinds of speed workouts from her Hal Higdon training plan – there are definitely guides out there for this. I don’t usually do these with her, as my strategy for getting faster is just to do training runs at a faster pace.
    c) I know I’m running at a faster pace because I am both more winded, and my phone tells me my pace, since I use it to track my run. I know you have a fancy phone, so why not try one of the apps for this? I use RunKeeper, but I know there are several – I set it to tell me my pace, etc. every few minutes.

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