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How to improve my speed (Read 974 times)

    Have run on and off all my life (I'm 42). Got back into running a little more seriously the last few months (though still very low mileage compared to most of you guys). I've always been a plodder and have done 3 marathons with very low mileage trainingg. Times 4:03, 5:03, 4:20. I would like to do one under 4:20 this year. Is the best way to increase speed to just generally try to increase my plodding speed or is it best to do speed training? Any ideas on the best type of speed training? At the moment i can't see me managing to run more than 3 times a week. Thanks
    RUN HARD


      Would need to know more information. You either need to improve SPEED or DISTANCE TRAINING. When in marathon shape, what is your 5K, 10K, 1/2M, and or 30K RACE times. Based on these times we can determine what you need to do.
        Hi, Sorry haven't got the info you need. I have done races over the years but have never logged the times (apart from the marathons!) I've never been one to meticulously time myself I just run BUT I do feel I have got into a plod and would like to know the best way of finding my best speed. I'm never going to be fast but maybe a bit faster!!! What I have found over the years is that my speed is not much different whether I am running a 5k, 10k, 1/2M or Marathon or if the course is hilly or flat - I just keep on plodding!!
        Scout7


        CPT Curmudgeon

          Low mileage training? Increase your miles first. You need to be running consistently over 35 miles per week. After that, I would include tempo runs once a week for a period of time. You could make your long runs tempo runs, building distance / time spent at a higher pace. It'd be interesting to see what your splits are like from past races. Can you recall if you died at all on the course, and where that point might have been? That could be predictive of what might work well for you. Also, what constitutes a low-mileage marathon program? Do you do any other aerobic activities (i.e. cycling, swimming, etc.)?
            I always run the first few miles really slow - settle in to a steady pace and then slow the last few miles. 15 miles have always been the worst part of the marathon - I imagine that is due to not enough miles in my training. I cycle a couple of times a week (7 miles to and from work) and swim occasionally.
            Scout7


            CPT Curmudgeon

              You mean that from the 15 mile marker on? Yeah, I would chalk that up to minimal mileage, and you would definitely benefit from a higher mileage plan, probably more so than introducing speed work at this point. The cycling and swimming are good cross training.
              RUN HARD


                I agree with Scout...if you are hitting wall at 15....need more mileage. If you have any splits. let su know
                  Just curious. Are you training with a training schedule of some sort or just running what and when you are able? Last year after using a training program to train for a half marathon, I decided to train on my own. I found that I was able to keep my mileage at about the same point but I stopped seeing improvement in my times. I went back to using a training schedule (www.halhigdon.com is the one I used) and my times improved considerably. The schedules would have speedwork included in the plan, along with distances (and possibly paces) as well as rest days scheduled in the way to provide the most benefit. Here are some three-day-a-week programs: Coolrunning.com http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_1/tabloid-training.shtml Halhigdon.com has a 4 day-a-week program http://www.halhigdon.com/marathon/Mar00novice.htm Jeff Galloway has a program that calls for running 3 days a week with walking on the other days. http://www.runinjuryfree.com/training/marathon.html There are others out there. I couldn't find the one I had just been looking at over the weekend. You can Google it if none of the appeal. Good luck! Smile Teresa
                    You mean that from the 15 mile marker on? Yeah, I would chalk that up to minimal mileage, and you would definitely benefit from a higher mileage plan, probably more so than introducing speed work at this point. The cycling and swimming are good cross training.
                    Scout7 is right. Higher miles will help, but you might also add 6-8 60m strides at the end of your runs 2-3 times per week. The strides should be steady accelerations to an almost-all-out sprint (no straining). Be careful the first few times you do it so that you don't pull a hammy. Another workout I like requires a track. The idea is to run 10x400 continuously at (current, not goal) marathon pace, but run the last 100m of every lap as a controlled stride, accelerating to the top velocity good form will allow and holding it for 100m. So, it's 10 continuous laps, 300m at marathon pace, 100m fast. I find that this helps me to develop and maintain different gears--and also practice recovering at marathon pace. You might not start out with 10 of these--try 5 or 6 the first time and build. These are two things you can build into your training to work specifically on your speed without sacrificing your ability to build the aerobic base that is everything in the marathon.
                    Scout7


                    CPT Curmudgeon

                      Scout7 is right. Higher miles will help, but you might also add 6-8 60m strides at the end of your runs 2-3 times per week. The strides should be steady accelerations to an almost-all-out sprint (no straining). Be careful the first few times you do it so that you don't pull a hammy. Another workout I like requires a track. The idea is to run 10x400 continuously at (current, not goal) marathon pace, but run the last 100m of every lap as a controlled stride, accelerating to the top velocity good form will allow and holding it for 100m. So, it's 10 continuous laps, 300m at marathon pace, 100m fast. I find that this helps me to develop and maintain different gears--and also practice recovering at marathon pace. You might not start out with 10 of these--try 5 or 6 the first time and build. These are two things you can build into your training to work specifically on your speed without sacrificing your ability to build the aerobic base that is everything in the marathon.
                      I like those. The 400's you're describing could also be worked in to a medium to longer run, as well, but done by time (if you can't do distance). That would be similar to a fartlek-style run. I would say, though, that before you start introducing those workouts, get your consistency up to about 5 days per week. But that's a more personal preference of mine.
                        I would say, though, that before you start introducing those workouts, get your consistency up to about 5 days per week.
                        Absolutely.
                          Thanks for all your suggestions - I'll definitely try out some of your ideas. I've always avoided training programs before because they expect you to do far more mileage than I could ever fit in but I'll look at the three days ones. On the 5 mile runs I have been trying to pick up the pace for the last mile - is that too long - still only getting to about 9mile/min pace so not exactly sprinting!