Words of occasional wisdom from Bruce Oakley

Getting up to speed

Posted by boakley59 on April 26, 2012

So you want to be faster, do you? Not satisfied having fun and getting fit, now roadrunner’s gotta fly besides, eh? Fine, then, let’s beeping get to it! (Eight-week advanced plan below)

To be faster, you must practice faster. To avoid going to pieces, however, you do this a little bit at a time. You let your body teach itself how to be efficient. One day a week, take about a third of your workout time to go much faster than your usual jog. Warm up with your usual jog, maybe even a little slower, for about a third of your usual workout time. Stretch, especially any trouble areas you might have (tight hamstrings, calves, Achilles, IT band). Then, for what totals about half of your usual workout time, do some hard running in “repeats”: short bursts, with equivalent walking recovery time. Cool down jogging about a sixth of your workout time. Stretch again; rehydrate with carb and protein drinks.

A sample plan if you normally work out 30 minutes (as we are doing in the Women Run Arkansas clinic):
Jog for 10 minutes
8 repeats for 15:00 — Run for 1:00, walk for 1:00 (begin cooldown after 8th run instead of doing an 8th walk)
Jog for 5 minutes
Stretch; rehydrate

As your fitness progresses, you can modify the repeats by how hard you run them, how long you run hard, how long you rest in between and even where you run them (hills, trails, track). Every change will improve your conditioning in some way: muscle tone, lung capacity, stride efficiency, mental toughness. You’ll learn to be comfortable moving fast and your usual jog will seem easier all the time.

I’ve got an eight-week training plan targeting the June 16 Go! Mile in North Little Rock, working Tuesdays 3-3:10 p.m. and Saturdays 6:30 a.m. at Batesville High track (no workouts May 12, day of Women Can Run 5K and WRMC Run the Wave 5K). I’m assuming those trying this plan are running 20-25 miles a week and don’t think a 5-6 mile day is an especially big load. Tuesdays will be shorter, raw speed repeats and Saturdays will be longer repeats working on developing comfortable pacing. Target pace is set by your goal mile. If you want to run a 5:00 mile, we’ll be running 400s (1 track lap) in 75 seconds or faster. 100s/200s are always fast as possible (AFAP).

We’ll always warm up jogging 2 miles, then stretch, then do our repeats, then jog a mile and stretch again.

This Saturday: 3 or 4 x 800, current max mile pace
Tue May 1: 200-400-600-800-600-400-200, target mile pace
Sat: 4 x 800, between current/target mile
Tue May 8: 8 x 400, target mile or faster
Sat: 800-1600-800
Tue May 15: 400-800-400-800-400-800-400, target mile
Sat: 1200-1600-1200
Tue May 22: 4 x 100, 4 x 200, 4 x 400, 4 x 200, 4 x 100, AFAP
Sat: 6 x 800, target mile
Tue May 29: 10 x 400
Sat: 3 x 1600
Tue June 5: 2 x 400, 2 x 800, 2 x 400, target mile or faster
Sat: 2 x 1200, target mile
Tue June 12: 3/4 x 400, AFAP
June 16: Go! Mile

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