Friday, February 4, 2011

Questions and Answers - Need for Speed

I am going to answer the questions I have been asked in emails once or twice a week. If you have a question (running? weight loss? 12 kids?) please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email. :)

Here is the first one I will answer - 

My question for you is, how can I get faster? I run quite slowly (11 minute miles) and have been this same speed since I could run a full mile. is this just "my pace" or is there a way I can train myself to go faster?

Ok, I am not a coach or an expert in any way, but I definitely think that with work, almost any runner can get faster. Remember that "fast" is a very fluid concept though. What is super fast to one runner is an easy pace for another, and what some consider a fast pace is impossible to comprehend for others.  But again, I do think getting faster is something that just about any runner can do with training and dedication.

When I first started out, I was THRILLED with anything under 12 minutes a mile. After awhile I remember thinking that being able to finish my three miles at under 10 minutes a mile was FAST. Now I can comfortably run in the 8-9 minute a mile range for long runs and have finished two marathons at about a 9:30 pace.  I ran my first 5K race in a time of 32 minutes and something seconds, and I was super happy with that. A year later I ran a 5K and had a time of 23:33 (a 7:35 pace), and was crazy happy with that. This year when I run it again, I am hoping to be even faster. I am certainly not a "super fast" runner, but I have been able to better my average pace and my race times over a fairly short period of time.

So how did I do it (and how do I continue to try and get faster)? As Hal Higdon says, "If you want to run fast, you have to run fast." Adding some speedwork into your runs, whether you do fartleks, tempo runs, pace runs, intervals, hill work, track work, etc. will help you get faster. I have recently incorporated all of those into my training and have found myself consistently hitting faster paces and times. Here is a good article from Runner's World on how to start adding in some speed work to your training. At first I was afraid to try and run fast, but then I tried it and found out that is is wicked fun. I love to finish a run with a good hard sprint.

 I have also found that logging in lots of miles, losing weight and bettering my form have all also helped me increase my speed. Using my Garmin 305 (which I LOVE) has helped me to get an idea of what different paces feel like outside and has helped with speed work a lot. When I first started running I didn't think I would care about my pace or speed (or lack thereof) and I know plenty of casual runners who just enjoy running at whatever pace they run at. But after I toed the line at my first race I realized that I definitely did care and I have consistently strived to be able to run longer and faster. I know I am 33 years old and that two years ago I had not even gone on my first run yet, but I am excited to see how much faster I can get and how well I can do. It's part of the fun for me. :)

So how about you more experienced runners? How do you get faster? Any tips? :) Happy weekend everybody!

This picture was taken at the 5K last summer when I finished in 23:33 and second in my age group. This picture makes me laugh because my friend Katie says I look like a girl in a Breck commercial. (I have no idea why I didn't put in a pony tail).  I have lost 15lbs since this race and done a lot more speed work so I am hoping to be faster when I run it again this summer. :)


Chris K said...

Howdy, thanks for your well wishes on my Blog. I know that I have gotten faster by using heart rate zone based training, but that might require a Coach.

Terzah said...

Running fast isn't fun at first, but like you said above it becomes fun, even exhilarating, once you get used to it. Sort of like running itself! I'd love to run a sub-23 5K again--haven't done that since the kids were born. Good for you!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

I love this picture of you!!

I am far from experienced, but I have found Yasso 800's, and mile repeats to increase your begin to get the feel of a higher HR and realize you can do it! :)

Korin Lopez said...

This is just the article I needed to read! I have always just categorized myself as a slow runner, but have decided that I no longer want to be slow!
Thanks for sharing!

Alie said...

Wow Erin! Thank you ever so much for answering my question! I have a lot to learn. A lot of the terms you mentioned are new to me - fartleks, tempo runs, pace runs, intervals, hill work, track work, etc. Thanks for the education.

On Thursday I needed to complete my 3 miles on the treadmill quickly to meet up with a friend so I set the speed higher. I was shocked to find it really wasn't noticeably harder. I guess the "If you want to run fast, you have to run fast." is really all there is to it! ;)

I ran my longest run to date this morning - 9 miles! And made it just before the snow started falling in earnest. I hope your run tomorrow goes equally smoothly.

Thanks again!


Run with Jess said...

What a great picture of you running the 5K - looks like a neat setting for a race!
I was just reminiscing today during my run... last year at this time a 11:00 min/mile was pushing. Today, my ease pace is 10:00/miles... not fabulous, but I'm getting there. I contribute hill repeats, speed interval and tempo training.