Running for Speed

by Megan

Attention all runners! Whether you run marathons weekly or are just getting started, this may be some great advice to take in. I often hear people who are looking to increase their mile time complain that they keep running a certain number of miles, but aren’t getting any faster. They often set their watches and strive to shave a couple seconds off their last run time, but unfortunately, this type of training isn’t very effective for increasing speed (no matter how hard you try!)

So, what is effective? Something called speed play, sometimes referred to as fartleks (Swedish for “speed play”). Long distance runs are great for endurance, but speed play workouts will build your speed. You need to be able to go fast to run fast.  Jogging slow makes you good at jogging slow.  To go faster, you need to train at fast paces.  Sprinting develops muscles in a different way than jogging does.

But still, some runners can find this challenging, especially at the beginning. In my experience, these people have more of a mental block than a physical one. For these athletes (because after all, we are all athletes!) I suggest trying this:

At least once a week, get you’re running shoes on, play your favorite workout music, head out your front door and just start running. Don’t set your watch. Don’t worry about your distance. Just put one foot in front of the other. Admire your surroundings, find new routes and keep things interesting. As you go, start to pick objects ahead of you to sprint to. “Okay, I’m going to run my hardest to that stop sign”. Once you hit that stop sign, you can slow back down to a jog or even a walk if you really need to, but make a promise to yourself that you will not stop sprinting until you hit that object. You can pick some that are close or some that are further away. Just challenge yourself and have fun with it!

Some people see running as a chore—something that you must do to stay in shape, but running can be fun! Besides you’re a lot less likely to stick with it if you get bored of it. So, don’t take it so serious!


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