Friday, March 14, 2014

How To Get Fast(er)


I believe you should do what you love and what makes you happy!  I love running and it makes me happy (trust me, before I became a runner, I would never have believed this would be me).

Running fast doesn't make me happy.  Until I train more and get faster and it become somewhat easier. PR'ing a race does make me happy.  In order to PR a race, I have to run faster.  Well, you see the catch 22 here.

In November 2012, I started doing weekly speed work and weekly hill runs. In a month, I ended up PR'ing a 5k I had been working on for 2 years (with the help of Kelly).  And the following month (in January 2013), I PR'd my half marathon!  I was beginning to be able to hold my speed for longer distances and didn't feel quite so miserable doing it!  In fact, I was quite enjoying it!

I don't like dwelling on the past and the negative aspects but I then dislocated my shoulder 2 times (read about them here and here) in the month of February 2013 and was sidelined for about 1 month. And there went my speed.  And it was a while before I even attempted any again while I tried to rehab my shoulder.

I intermittently did speed work over the summer but you know how summer is! Hot! I never got back to the 1x a week speed work I had been doing.  And I've definitely been struggling with finding my speed again.  Since I don't like running fast and feeling uncomfortable, I don't do it much. With the winter, it's been hard because I'm not going to try to do speed work in the evening, in the dark, watching out for ice, or running on the snow. And if given the opportunity to run outside in those conditions or on the treadmill to do speed work, I mostly opted to run outside at a slower pace.

I did recently try the short interval speed work that I saw on Out and About, which is basically running speed 1 min, recover 1 min (x 10).  Made the treadmill go by really fast!  And I really liked it. Although I was on the treadmill that day.  I hope when the weather gets better (which it is starting too, sort of), I can incorporate weekly speed work into my running again. I want to get faster. I want to feel ok with the slightly uncomfortable feeling of a faster run.  I want to be able to mentally push through when I'm getting tired.

I have a half marathon this weekend (the Get Lucky Half in Chicago).  I'm not even going to try coming near a PR.  I'm just looking at beating my December Half time of 2:18.  Ideally, I'd like to run consistent 10 min miles for the average pace.  But anything under 2:15 would make me feel "ok".  Now this isn't quite the "attitude" I want to have when going into a half marathon. But I know I'm nowhere beating my PR time of 2:03! 

Do you do speed work?  How do you handle your mind if it tells you to stop?  Is there a certain type of speed work you enjoy doing?  How would you help a beginner start up on speed work?

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  1. I really fell off the running wagon this winter - not just speed, but my mileage went way down. So now my paces are slower than they've been in awhile. Pretty sure I'm going to get a Personal Worst at the Shuffle. Anyway. I love speedwork! As I'm sure you know by now :) The only time I've done speedwork lately is on the treadmill because otherwise I find the treadmill BOOOORING.

    There are so many different types of speed workouts you can do. I think that's why I like it so much - you can always mix it up and every workout is different. (Versus doing every run at the same pace the whole time - that's boring to me.)

    Personally I love doing the "ladder" where your intervals get longer then shorter. But, it doesn't have to be that complicated. Basically, the idea is to just run fast, recover, run fast, recover. Usually when I'm on the 'mill, I'll go by distance (not time) and do a quarter mile fast, a quarter mile slow, repeat. If you can get to the track, so a lap fast, a lap of recovery, a lap fast, etc. Or alternate, one lap fast, one lap slow, two laps fast, one lap slow, etc. Like I said ... so many different ways to do speedwork! As for pace, I always get out the heart rate monitor for speedwork, and aim to get in a certain zone, not hit a certain pace. But that takes getting to know your heart rate. You could also aim for your goal 5K pace (being realistic to your current fitness level.)

    As for the mind, you just have to set a goal and go for it. Definitely plan your workout before it starts. Tell yourself "I'm going to warm up for a mile, then I'm going to do X number of repeats, and then cool down." And don't stop until your workout is done. The important thing is to plan a reasonable workout, for your current fitness level. You want it to be challenging, push you to the edge of "ahhhh this sucks!!" but you still want to be able to finish it feeling like you have a little bit left - you don't want your workouts (speedwork or long runs) making you feel completely wiped out and exhausted.

    When I'm struggling, I remind myself that this will be worth it on raceday, I can't get faster without going fast, I won't die, only one more and then I'm done, or I'm over halfway done, or I tell myself to dig deep - I know I have it in me to do this workout, etc. I used to play soccer, so sometimes I'll also envision that I'm in a game, trying to beat my opponent to the ball. Or you can race against yourself. If you do the same speedwork two weeks in a row, try to beat your time from the previous week.

    Do you ever do tempo runs? The general idea is "warm up, run at a comfortably hard pace, then cool down." Generally "comfortably hard" is your 10K pace. You can warm up for a mile, then do anywhere from 2-6 miles at tempo (depending on your fitness level and what you're training for) then cool down for a mile. You're sustaining the fast pace longer, but it's not quite as fast as speedwork.

    Shoot me an email if you have any other questions. I love talking about this stuff, obviously :)

    1. Holy moly that was a really long comment!!! Haha.

    2. Thanks for the reply! Yes it's long but that's ok! I do notice that you do the ladder workouts (or did). I've never done that. I think when I start doing the speedwork, I'll try to incorporate one of those into my plans. And maybe I have a tough time bc I'm not sure what my pace should be right now. I don't want my workout to be too easy but I don't want it to be too hard. Maybe now that the weather is getting better, I will be able to do more of this.

      I did a tempo run maybe twice when I was doing speedwork before. And I loved it. But that's when I was already getting more used to running fast. I think I just need to work up to it again, mentally and physically! Thanks Maggie!

    3. I almost didn't sign up for the shuffle because I didn't want to try to PR and fail (bc I would have failed). But then I emailed my cousin and he said he would run it if I ran it with him. that was perfect bc now I have a goal. It's not my pace I'm running, it's his so it will be better! lol

  2. So I tried commenting here a couple of times using my iPhone, but both times the comments disappeared after I hit "Publish." Trying it one more time on a computer - and apologies if this ends up being a dupe or two!

    Thank you for the shout out! I so relate to the catch 22 of wanting to get faster, but not enjoying the process of running faster to become faster. I certainly don't enjoy pushing myself to the point of nausea or similar while running! For this reason, the 5K is my most-hated race distance because of the sheer pain involved. I'll take a half marathon over a 5K anyday! But my philosophy these days is that speedwork doesn't have to be painful to be effective - and that moderate-effort speedwork is better than none at all. I am really glad to hear that the 1-minute tempo repeats have worked well for you, woo hoo!

    I wish you a fantastic race at Get Lucky this weekend! Can't wait to hear your recap of how things go, too. Have a blast and go get 'em!!!

    1. Thanks! Race was ok. Recap is coming soon! :)

  3. I actually do speed intervals on the treadmill - 1 minute sprint, 1 minute off, then 1 minute jogging and repeat for 40 minutes - it's definitely a workout!

    Sorry it was so cold this weekend for the race - I don't think our winter is ever going to end!

    1. The weather for the half wasn't too bad actually. It was on Sat. and about 30 degrees at the start. Going north, it was very windy. Going South is was hot and sunny! So it was hard being cold from the wind to being hot and shedding clothes, to being in the wind again. But not bad!