Faster long runs. Everyone wants to run faster longer but does this sound familiar to you?
If you’re new to running, you’re excited.
You remember the first time you managed to run 5km without stopping (woohoo!). And, slowly and steadily – at the urging of your friends and training buddies – you’ve stepped up to longer races and have increased your long run. From 5km to 10km and now you’re eyeing off 90mins and even 2 hour long runs!
But the stats from your watch leave you confused…your average pace isn’t really improving. A few seconds here and there but not the significant improvements you expected to see. Sure, you’re running further than you ever have – and certainly further than you once thought was even possible! – but you’re frustrated and confused. So more running must be the answer right?
If you’ve been running for a few months or even years, you wonder if you’ve hit a plateau.
All the running you’ve been doing and still the pace of your long run hasn’t really improved in the last few months.
It’s frustrating isn’t it?
You spend so much of your time battling injuries, niggles, early mornings, late nights, colds and whatever illness the kid’s picked up at school – but you’ve stopped seeing any real improvements.
There’s one trap that most people fall into from time to time.
And it’s the reason you feel so frustrated by your lack of improvement.
Consider many of today’s successful endurance athletes.
Look carefully and you’ll notice the difference; the reason they’re able to race at a blisteringly fast pace while you seem to work your guts out and never really get any faster.
(And it’s got nothing to do with the fact that you have to squeeze your training around a full time job and family commitments…)
Do you know what it is?
I won’t keep you in suspense…
It’s that most of them spent years developing and their speed over shorter races before they stepped up to long distances.
3x time Hawaii Ironman champion Craig (Crowie) Alexander is the perfect example. He raced 70.3 / Half Ironman races for 5 years before he stepped up to race his first Ironman in 2007.
(Just quietly – how long did you race at the 70.3 / long course distance before you stepped up to Ironman?)
So what does this have to do with you and your training? Here’s the secret to developing your long run speed ~
Longer is not faster.
Better is faster.
Quality is faster.
(I never promised the answer would be rocket science!)
Many age groupers rush to step up to the longer distances without taking the time to develop their speed over the shorter distances first. It’s easy to get into the sport and think that if you just run longer, you’ll also run faster.
It works eventually but it takes lots of time and buckets of patience. And in the meantime, you’re training yourself to run at the same (slow) pace over a longer distance.
Here’s a choose-your-own adventure challenge for you. Here are 2 super effective ways to a faster long run ~
You may need to reduce the overall distance of your long run but the session will be more effective and get you faster results.
A quality session is one that includes some effort/s and is designed to lift your fitness above your aerobic baseline. It’s a session that moves your fitness up the ladder, one step closer to your goal.
And I hate to break this to you – but your normal long (slow) run doesn’t fall within this category.
If you want to be able to run faster over longer distances, it’s not the smart way to do it.
A shorter but harder session, loaded with strategic intervals and efforts, will yield better results (and bring them faster) than if you all you do is a long slow run.
This might seem counter-intuitive as an endurance athlete but bear with me.
Imagine for a moment, you decide to work on your speed over 5km (or 20-30 odd minutes).
Your next step is to learn to hold that speed for, say, 30-35 minutes. And then 40-45 minutes (and so on).
Compare this to the (common) approach of running slowly for a long(er) period of time. Getting the distance of your long run up to 2 hours, and then trying to hold a faster speed over the whole 2 hours.
What sounds like a more realistic and achievable goal – increasing your speed for 5 minutes or 2 hours?
You’re a runner so I know you love a challenge. So here is my challenge to you ~
Take the next 6 weeks and commit to working on your speed over 5km. It’s the perfect time of year to do it.
It does require a little bit of ego management as you’ll probably need to take a small step back in your training load. But it will bring results – and you’ll see those results faster than your training buddies who are back trying to run 5 seconds per kilometre/mile faster for 2+ hours (which puts you on the fast track for a frustrating long course racing experience).
If you’ve fallen into this trap and are not seeing the improvements you dream of, my new program 5 Faster can help.
It’s a 6 week run training program that is 100% customised to fit you – your history, training goals, background, injuries and lifestyle.
Please note: the price of “5 Faster” will rise on 1 January 2016. Don’t miss out – join the program now and kickstart your training in 2016 on the right (fast) foot!