If you've been running for a while, you may find your endurance has improved but that you're not running any faster. To develop a faster pace, you need to incorporate speed training into your regular workouts. Here are some ways you can do this. Bonus: Speed training will make your runs more interesting! By setting different goals for your runs, you won't just be doing the same old, same old. The new focus will help make your workouts more exciting as well as rewarding.
Tempo runs help by getting your body to clear the lactic acid that makes your muscles tire and slow down. Our bodies are designed in such a way that we have a threshold for when the levels of blood lactate increases. By incorporating tempo runs into your workouts, you push back your body's lactate threshold.
A tempo run involves running at a comfortably hard pace (think faster than what's easily comfortable). You shouldn't be able to carry on a conversation easily, but you shouldn't be going all out either. Take it down a few notches from sprinting. On a 6-kilometre run, start with a 1-kilometre warm-up run at a comfortable pace, then run 4 kilometres at a tempo pace, then cool down on the last kilometre. Also, consider timing the run, especially if you don't typically use a timer. It'll be rewarding to monitor your pace as it improves. You can use a watch or an app such as MapMyRun or Nike+ GPS.
Track work can be a bit boring, but it can provide a fantastic framework for boosting your pace. Try some 800 repeats, running at your maximum speed around the 400-metre track twice, then slow your pace to a jog for one lap, then repeat. Track work will eventually help you run faster but with the same effort.
If you don't have a track near you, you can always incorporate some simple fartlek training. Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning to alternate your pace in an unstructured way throughout your run. Use street blocks or the distance between lampposts as your markers, and in between those lampposts you've spotted, aim to run faster than your usual pace.
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