Anyone can run a race by training through long, slow and endless miles (that’s what I did for my first half-marathon). And many do (*cough* me).
A great way to improve your overall speed in any distance of racing or running is to add in, once a week, a speed workout. There’s all kinds of options for what this could be; from intervals to simple repeats to tempo runs. I’m sure there’s many more, each with varying distance options.
The point of this workout is to teach your body, but specifically your legs, to turn over at a faster rate. Basically, to teach your body to be faster than the usual miles you run.
Now, for many people this doesn’t translate to exactly that pace. It just helps to allow you to “kick it into gear” and drag a bit more out of yourself during races.
For example, while training for my first half, I really only did long, slow miles. I didn’t incorporate any other workouts, like tempo runs or even hills. Just miles. So when I raced, especially a 5K, I actually had a point where I was thinking “I should be able to, but my legs just won’t move any faster!?” I had so trained my muscles into the feel of those slow miles that without a speed workout mixed in, they couldn’t respond properly to give me the kind of kick I wanted.
Fear not, as that won’t be a problem for this marathon training. I’m starting out running 6x800s. That means a half mile (0.5 miles = about 800 meters) 6 times at a certain pace. Right now, it’s 3:40-3:50 (that translates to a 7:20-7:40 mile), but that will likely change in the future once I have some more official race times under my belt. Anyways, I start at that number & will work my way all the way up to 10 of those monsters.
A great but tiring workout. It’s definitely helped me improve so far, but is the other hard workout besides hills and the long runs. I want that speed, but I have to work for it to get it.
I equally look forward to and dread these speed workouts….