Feeling the Need for Speed

At this point in my running career, simply logging miles isn’t going to do anything for my anymore, that is if I want to keep getting better and faster.  Up until now my improvements have been stemming from all sorts of physiological mechanisms.  Science talk for two seconds I promise.

1.  I improved my neuromuscular efficiency to start.  This occurs the first few weeks to months of training before anything else changes.  Basically your nerves get better at getting the message from your brain to your muscles to fire and help you run.

2.  I have improved my stores of glycogen in my muscles and trained my body to use fat for fuel.  This helps me keep going for hours.  This is the benefit of doing long runs on the weekends.  This is also why your speed doesn’t really matter on these runs, what matters is the time you are taxing your body.  Once you get to a certain time point, your body starts to learn to kick into the vast energy stores in your fat (wayyyyy more energy than your glycogen stores, like tons more).  That is why you can (and should) train on these runs at a 30-90 seconds slower than race pace for these runs.

3.  I have learned how to fuel during runs and allowed my GI system to adjust to this so nothing is a shock during a race and I know what my body can handle.

The principle I haven’t really hit on much is speed.  This is the “specificity principle”, you play like you practice.  Because I do long runs so much slower than I plan to race I have to get that speed in other place.  This comes from pace runs, hills and interval reps.

My arch nemesis favorite of these is hills.  You get a double bang for your buck with these.  You get strength from the extra push you need to get up and you get speed because you are sprinting your butt off!  Hill reps are probably my hardest work out but I love them most when I am done and I know I will love them even more at the end of my next marathon.

Todays hills called for 3 reps.  Not too bad, I can do anything three times, easy peasey.  I took a mile-ish warm up, then did 3 1/4 mile reps up hill with a SLOOOW recovery jog down before heading up again.  I ended with another mile of cool down.  Splits looked something like this:


These are pretty decent splits.  Very consistent which is always what I am looking for.

So my first hills training went well.  For the rest of the training plan, each time I do these, I add one rep so I am sure once I get around to doing 8 repeats I won’t have as joyous comments about them but so far so good!

Hope everyones Monday was great!

4 thoughts on “Feeling the Need for Speed

  1. Hills are my enemy!! Especially as my local park has tonnes of them 😉 When you sprint up a hill (I am slightly tempted after reading this!), do you stop at the top to recover (so you really go for it!) or do you hold back so that you can continue running after? Thanks!

    • I hate them and love them some much its hard to decide how I truly feel!
      I am a HUGE believer in active recovery. It you stop at the top your heart rate will drop drastically, your muscle think you are done and then when you go back to sprint up again you are more susceptible to cramping and the “heavy leg” feeling. When I get to the top I turn around and jog as slow as my body can possibly go back to the bottom of the same hill before starting again. This way my legs keep moving but it is not taxing at all on my cardiovascular system!
      Hope that helps!!

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