Starting out running, most people are happy just to be out and running. A new runner should simply work on improving distance until a satisfactory distance has been reached. A new racer should focus on finishing the distance and finishing happy and strong for the race. But at some point, time begins to play on a runner’s mind-how to get faster and improve their pace per mile. Here are some ideas to add to the workout rotation if you are a newer runner.
1. Add in some timed runs. There are a plethora of timed runs to add, but initially one might work on improving one shorter run a month for improved times. Generally shorter runs work well (such as a shorter 3 mile run the day after a rest day to test on fresh legs). The long run should be left alone as this should be about adding distance, not time, initially. Another approach that would work here is to use time and to run a further distance than before on the same route.
2. Add track workouts: Track workouts are all about pacing and improving speed. Mile repeats are an easy workout to start with (4 laps around the track). Start out with 2-3 x 1 mile at 5K pace with a half time rest and add on 1 each month will help strengthen the legs for faster running.
3. Add in some Fartlek runs: Replace one of your easy days with a run where you pick various points to run to and speed up the run for periods of 30 sec to 1 minute. Alternate with easy running in between the points. This will help get your heart rate up for a
4. Add in hills: Hills are a great leg strengthener and will quickly help to add faster turn over and an improved VO2 max for the beginning runner. Find a hill about 50-100 feet that gradually ascends but is not too difficult and after a good warm-up of a mile or two, run 4-5 hills (run the hill and walk or jog down with a little rest at the bottom if needed).
5. Find a faster paced friend: Join a friend or find a running club with some runners that are a little faster than you and join them for a run at least every two weeks or so. They will help you push the pace when you may want to hang back and relax.
Pick one of these to add in to your training schedule for the week and add in another the next week for two per week. Alternate which ones you try each week for more variety. Soon you will be running faster than you realize and you’ll see some new faster times on the watch.