So you can run. But can you run fast? Dan Millington, personal trainer at Be a Better You and Iron Man first-timer reveals his essential tips for improving your speed.
It’s all in perspective right? Of course, but at the same time there is a holy grail for the amateur runner that should be sought after and broken. I am talking about the 3 hour marathon mark. In old money that equates to just under 7 minute miles for the marathon, and I am here to tell that there are certain common mistakes that people make during training that leave them struggling to dip under the infamous 180 minute mark. Not interested in a 3 hour marathon? Fear not, this advice is applicable to anyone who is trying to beat the clock whether that be in a local 10k, a bike race or whatever people do at Crossfit.
I once trained with someone who was obsessed with meeting his weekly mileage….run mostly at around 7.15 minutes per mile with his longer runs at the weekend at an even slower pace. Yet he still expected to be challenging the 3 hours mark. Not surprisingly, he ran 3.18. How could you possibly expect your body to be able to keep up a run pace over and above what you have trained at for 3 hours? It is ludicrous. Again, I am not talking about simply marathon distance here. Find out how fast you have to do whatever you are looking to do and make sure that a decent portion of your training is at or above this race pace. Of course it is important to be able to build some stamina at a lower pace, but if you have been doing this all through the Winter and are aiming for say the London Triathlon in August then start training at (or above) race pace now. Ask any athlete – race pace training is key for giving you that edge. In fact many of them will be doing intervals at a faster pace to ensure that they have the necessary speed endurance. Start how you mean to carry on…
So you want to run fast? Follow these tips:
The chances are that if you are entering an event you have a competitive streak. It doesn’t have to be overbearing or annoying (we all know someone like that), but a competitive streak can be used to your advantage in training. Running alone against the clock is great, but what happens when you aren’t really feeling it? This is where training with a friend is awesome. I find that when I’m running with a friend on one of those ‘off’ days, my competitive streak takes over and I think “you’re kidding me if I’m going to let you speed off just because I’m feeling a bit soft”. It doesn’t matter that much if I do eventually get beaten – because I will definitely put more effort in than if I was just training alone. As you progress through your training it gets more and more serious. After all, you don’t want all of your training to result in you getting panned by your friend! A bit of friendly competition gives you the motivation to take your training to the next level.
Flexibility is overlooked by far too many amateur athletes, but can drastically affect your running form and the way your muscles ‘fire’. Take special care of your hamstrings and hip flexors – without this flexibility you can find your stride length shorten which can decrease efficiency. Tight hip flexors can also lead to a lack of recruitment of the larger muscles such as your glutes, when in fact you want to be doing the complete opposite. Finally, and most importantly, working on your flexibility will reduce your risk of injury which should be high on your list of priorities!
Now get out there. If you want to race fast, then train fast, and enjoy yourself.
The rantings and ravings of Dan Millington – runner, triathlete, wannabe pro surfer and personal trainer at Be A Better You