Running fast to run longer

Road runner  

Last week’s edition of Road Runner focused on the importance regular runners have to give the area of strength training. This week, we will look into the other important pillar that supports the ability of a runner to go longer and faster. Speed training/intervals training is an area that many runners —both beginners and veterans —ignore.

Before we get into the importance of speed/intervals, let’s outline some common myths, and during the course of this article we will dispel all of them — Speed training is only for athletes training for short distance track and field events. Running intervals is bad for your legs and causes injuries. Why should one run fast during training if the goal is to run a long distance at a slow pace?

Some of the benefits of including speed workouts in your training schedule include —

* Increased strength and speed.

* Improved efficiency in oxygen delivery to your muscles. In other words, your muscles will be able to function more efficiently with less oxygen, a huge bonus with regard to training your body for long distance running.

* A higher lactic acid threshold: With speed workouts, your anaerobic system learns how to use glycogen as a fuel source pushing back your lactic acid threshold and allowing you to run longer, faster.

* Your running form improves with better arm swing, stride length, and breathing.

* You are able run faster with less effort.

* Speed training gives you a mental edge as you push and challenge yourself to your body’s limits. This gives you a mental toughness and a huge advantage in competitions and even when the training gets rough.

* Increases your ability to run an even pace without becoming too tired at the end.

* Now that you understand the benefits, lets look into how to incorporate them in your routine:

A. Where: You can either use a running track, or a public ground, a long flat piece of road in your neighbourhood. The other option is to go to a flyover nearby. A speed workout in a flyover also incorporates a hill type workout

B. How often: Not more than once a week! Interval workouts put a lot of stress on your body for short periods of time. You don’t want to overdo this. Keeping it brief and less frequent also ensures that there are no chances of injuries due to repetitive stress.

C. What type: As with everything else in training, if you’d like to integrate interval workouts into your routine you should do it gradually. Interval means you have periods of high intensity workouts followed by periods of rest. So, start with only a couple of 15-30 second repeats, taking ample time to recover between each. So this means run fast for 15-30 seconds then take a break for 60 seconds (Rest Interval or RI). Your RI can either be a walk or a slow jog. The key is to completely recover before your next interval. Over the course of several weeks, you could work your way up to more/longer repeats. Interval training will put a lot of stress on your body, given the extremely high speeds associated with it, and could lead to overuse injuries if you don’t ease into it. Rest between intervals also varies based on your goals and current fitness. A good place to start is with equal rest, so if it takes you 90 seconds to run a 400 m interval, jog slowly, walk or stop completely for 90 seconds in between. If endurance is your main objective, slightly less rest is usually sufficient. However, if speed is more important, getting adequate rest so you're able to continue running at that faster pace is necessary. In this case, you'll want to make sure your heart rate has dropped below 120 beats per minute before starting the next interval.

D. How long: Anywhere from 10 minutes to a maximum of 45 minutes. This will depend on the type of workout and the stage of training that you are at. In terms of total distance, most interval training workouts fall somewhere between 2 to 5 miles, depending on the length of the intervals. You should also include at least a 15- to 20-minute warm-up and cool down before and after. Warming up before you start an interval workout is important to avoid injuries.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 5:11:17 AM |

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