Monday, September 14, 2015

How To Increase Your Running Speed and Endurance

First a bit of a confession: Back in March I started training for this running season. At first I was doing fine. It was March...perfect weather...at the beach...perfect location. And than I got a nasty cold and instead taking time off to rest I ran through it. But because of my low energy I had to stop frequently and it was a mess that got me started in stopping during my runs. Death to my endurance.

To complicate matters, when I was eleven I had reconstructive surgery on my knee. It works great now but in the past year I've developed pain in my knee and hip that only gets worse with running (yes, I'm an old lady). So running will never be pain free.

Long story short, all this lead to my breaking down after a run sometime in May and telling my mom it would never get easier. In all her loving, unfiltered wisdom she said I could either choose to succeed or quit but stop whining and making excuses. It really did seem a shame to quit after so much work and quitting really isn't in my nature AT ALL. So I had an attitude check, decided I could and I would and reached my non-stop 3.5 miles which is my typical run and really the perfect workout for me. I feel like I've worked hard but I'm not dead.

The best way to build your running endurance is simply to decided you will and do not allow yourself to stop. Run as slow as molasses if you must but DON'T STOP RUNNING. Once you stop running your muscles begin to tense, your heart rate slows, you loose your pace and getting going again is so. much. harder.

When you feel like you can't go any further and HAVE to stop, BEFORE you stop I recommend first simply slowing down. Run a 12, 13 or even 14 min/mile. There is no shame in taking your time and you will feel so proud of yourself for not stopping.

Some days I keep going only by thinking how much I want to be finished running and how stopping will just make the misery last longer. Hey, whatever works!

Breathing is huge for endurance. Steady breaths in and out the nose are best. And don't wait until you are winded to focus on breathing. Breath intentionally from the start to avoid cramps and breathlessness. If you have hills in your area (we have nothing but hills) use the downhill stretches to slow down, breath intentionally and prepare for the next hill.

As far as increasing speed, this is one I'm still trying to figure out myself. Remember the second rule for beginning runners? Don't increase your speed until you have reached your distance goal. Once you can run your target distance nonstop you will be surprised how your speed will improve without much effort.

Figure out your average run length and try to do just a little better the next time. For example, once I reached my 3.5 miles nonstop I was doing 42 minute runs pretty consistently without giving speed any thought. A 3.5 miles run in 40 minutes seemed like a pretty simple goal and it was.

Similarly, determine your average no-thought-to-speed pace. I started out doing an average 11:50min/mi. My goal is to run a less than 10:00min/mi. Your pace will fluctuate throughout the run, especially if you run on hills. For now, I try to keep my normal run pace to somewhere between 11:00min/mi and 10:20min/mi. When I need to slow down I try to go no slower than a 12:00min/mi and I throw in as many sub 10:00min/mi sprints (usually 9:30min/mi) as I can to make up for the slower bits.

Be sure you are properly nourished before you run! Last month I did a morning run on an empty stomach less than 24hrs after donating blood. It was a mess. I ran 13:00-14:00min/mi and felt like I was dying. You need those carbs for energy. I am not a breakfast person and don't like eating before 10AM. But on running morning I try to eat 60g carbs, 15-45 minutes before running. It makes such a difference in my speed and endurance! Your body needs something to burn or it will burn muscle and that's just counterproductive.

Also, drink lots of water! Just not too near running or...ya know...

Make use of your full stride. I'm 5'6" so pretty average height. Regardless of height (but helpful if you're tall!) just increasing the distance of your stride will make you faster and your runs easier. This is tricky to practice and something I have to be very conscience of.

Livin' On A Pray by Bon Jovi is my power song. I always listen to it at the half way mark and keep my pace under 10:00min/mi for the duration. It improves time and is just fun.

Always on the look out for ideas...how do you increase your speed and endurance?

1 comment:

  1. These are great tips! I'm finally getting back to running after an injury and it's work to get that endurance back (annoyingly, since I was in such great shape before!). Good music is a must for me too, and though it's important to be careful to not overdo it when coming back, frequency is a huge thing for me in improving both mental and physical endurance (especially because I think most physical endurance comes from mental endurance - you can pretty much always keep going if your brain will convince you to!). Being in a regular routine really helps, otherwise I can develop a little anxiety about getting myself started on a run. Keep up the good work!!

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