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Inject Some Speed Into Your Winter Training

Congratulations to all of the fall marathoners for completing your races! It might seem like awhile ago at this point (and even longer now that snow is falling and it’s getting colder) — but it is a great accomplishment.

Now that the marathon is over and most of you have rested, it is time to start running again. I ran the Lehigh Marathon in September — and let’s just say, it didn’t go as planned (remember this photo?). I assumed qualifying for the Boston Marathon would be no problem and that I’d then spend the winter preparing for the 2014 race. When that was no longer an option, I decided to do something totally different this winter: train for the mile. A bit of shift, no doubt — but I believe this new goal will help me improve for my 2014 goal races.

Whether you want to run another marathon in the spring or just want to have fun running throughout the winter, the mile race can be beneficial for both. Teaching your body to be able to handle more lactic acid and run faster will help bring down your marathon PR. Running fast and racing is one of the most enjoyable things about the sport; it’s certainly the major reason I love to run because I love to compete.

Intimidated to train for the mile? Don’t be. Here are a few thoughts on training and how injecting some speed in your regular routine might be beneficial:

  • Continue to do long runs. The mile race is still about 50% aerobic, which means training your body to use oxygen better will benefit you during the race. Continue to do one run a week that lasts about 80 to 100 minutes.
  • Add strides to your easy runs. Strides are sprints of about 60-80 meters that are at 80-85% of your max speed. Add 4-6 strides at the end of one of your easy runs. Focus on form by leaning forward from the ankles and trying to land on the mid part of your foot.
  • Try speed endurance workouts. These workouts hurt, but they are the key to running a fast mile. Here is an example of a speed endurance workout to do at your local track: 800 meters at 5K pace, 3 mins rest, 600 meters at mile pace, 3 min rest, 400 meters at sub-mile pace, 3 min rest, 4×200 meters with 90 sec rest at 800 meter pace. Other workouts could include 8×400 meters with 90 sec rest at 3K-5K pace. The idea is you are running fast for each repetition, but not so fast where you keep the pace throughout the workout. Warning: you will be sore after this workout!
  • Try speed workouts. These workouts work on your sprinting speed. Run these workouts as hard as you can. A great workout I like to do is 4×400 with 3-4 mins rest. I run them at 95% effort. The rest is not as important in these workouts. Take the time to recover so you can run each repetition at the same pace.

These workouts should be slowly incorporated into your running routine. I like to do a few weeks of strides before I start any speed work, and I am conservative on the paces when I first do the speed workouts. The most important part is to have fun with this type of running. You should always feel in control. It is when you get out of control that injuries occur.

The best part about training for the mile is that the workouts are the most important part, so don’t worry about how far you run on the other days. Enjoy some speedy running, and I hope to see you around the track at the Armory!

If you’re interested, here is a sample week of my training:
M: Easy 6-7 miles with 4-6 strides
T: Track workout at the Armory (Speed Endurance-type workout)
W: Easy 6-8 miles
Th: Track workout at the Armory (Speed-type workout)
F: Easy 6-8 miles with 4-6 strides
Sa: Long run 90 mins
Su: Off

*If you would like to run less days take an easy day off.

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