Speed and endurance running sit at opposite ends of the spectrum. Therefore training for the two are completely different. What’s more, the two are like superman and kryptonite: while elite athletes have amazing turns of pace the number one thing seen among new and indeed inexperienced runners is a very limited range of running speeds. Its quite a skill to be able to run consistent 1K splits for a 10K.
You start by being able to run 1K faster.
Speed workouts are ideally done on a track. This may not be appealing to most people, so start by finding a place you can run without interruptions (people, road crossings, twists and turns etc). If you don’t have access to a track, a football pitch is approximately 100m long.
Warm up thoroughly. A steady 1K run followed by multiple dynamic stretches and finally some 50-60m stride outs approximately 80% of your max sprint will get you in the mood.
Typical speed sessions wont look like your standard endurance intervals, most notably the work to rest ratios. Rest is key and this is hard to get used to at the beginnin,g but if done properly you will want all of that rest.
The newer you are to running the more you will get from shorter, fast intervals with long rest periods so don’t worry if you feel completely fresh before the next rep, that just means you are ready to give it your all again.
Start with a session of 110m, 120m, 160m, 200m, 160m 120m, 110m with 3 minutes walk recovery between each rep. Follow this with a full cool-down. It’s not unusual for your hamstrings and calf muscles in particular to feel sore for a couple of days after this. Rest accordingly.
Intent is key. The first thing to consider is how hard to run each rep. While you will want to finish the session, attempting to pace a speed will defeat the objective. Try not to hold too much back on the reps. Commit to running fast. You will be surprised how after a couple of weeks these sessions won’t feel as hard as week one. If the first 110m rep is slower than the last one then you have held back. Similarly there doesn’t want to be a big difference: +/- 2 seconds a rep is fine.
Finally, escape monotony. That’s not just avoiding running the same route every day for months on end. It’s different outcomes from each training session.
A weekly plan that incorporates a long steady run, a tempo run (a short run done at above race pace), speed interval sessions and a hill session will do far far more for you than running six miles a a few times a week.
A simple trick, at the end of a steady run, is to add in four to eight stride outs of about 65-80m. The body has probably just run at steady, slow pace for 30-60 minutes and that’s what it will remember. After each stride out walk back slowly to your start point.
adidas Runners is a free running club which meets every Monday evening in London Bridge and every Friday morning in Clerkenwell. For more information visit adidas.co.uk/adidasrunners