Ready to become a faster runner? Try these key running workouts to go after your goals!
I can still remember my first race to this day. It was a local 5k and I was pretty sure I was going to die. However; the moment I finished I remember thinking – I want to get faster!
There’s millions of plans out there that can help to get you faster, but sometimes knowing where to start is often the most confusing part. The good news – no matter what type of plan you follow the basics of getting faster most of the time stay the same.
No matter your typical pace, marathon time, or how long you’ve been at it the running workouts are the same. They are adjusted or lengthened to fit your training needs but the overall concept doesn’t change. We all have to do the same work to get faster.
So, where do you start? Below are 5 running workouts that will help you to get faster and meet those big goals!
Hills and I have a love/hate relationship. Love because they are such an awesome workout in help you improve as a runner, but hate because they hurt. Hills are a great way to get some speed work into your while also working on your form.
Here is an example of a hill workout:
Don’t get too caught up in the pace but instead the effort that you are running. I typically will walk back down the hill, but if you jog make sure that you are still focusing on your form. Most people get injured when running down the hill, not up.
The key when running hills is to focus on your form. Lean forward slightly with your back straight. Keep your arms close to your body and pumping to help you up the hill. Hills can be a great way to help improve your running form when done correctly.
If you really want to feel fast once you are done running your hill workout, run a quick stride (10-15 seconds) FAST and you will be surprised just how much easier it feels after running hills.
If you are trying to get faster then chances are you have a goal time in mind for your next race. The best way to describe the effort for a tempo run would be “comfortably hard.” In most cases – your tempo runs are done at goal race pace but if you are training solely off effort then you want it be somewhere between easy and hard – a sustainable pace.
Here is an example of a tempo workout:
*This workout can be modified in distance depending on your goal race.
Tempo runs should be built up over the course of a training cycle, so don’t jump into a 10 mile tempo at the start of your marathon cycle. Start slow and each week gradually build your base up.
These runs are often intimidating at first, but they are some of the most rewarding at completion. These types of runs make you mentally strong and will definitely help to make you feel strong at race pace come the big day!
I love intervals! Why? They are so versatile! They can be done outside, on a track, and even on your treadmill. They also make the time go by so quickly. This can be especially handy for when you are stuck inside on the treadmill on a rainy day.
Interval workouts can come in so many different formats that it is possible to never do the same workout twice. You can really get creative when it comes to your workouts!
Here is an example of a great interval workout:
*You will run the intervals at a fast effort (80-90% effort) and between each interval jog half the time in recovery (you can also walk). For example – 1 minute fast, 30 seconds recovery, 2 minutes fast, 1 minute recovery, 4 minutes fast, 2 minute recovery, etc.
Interval workouts have set periods, recovery, and speeds. They can be done with specific paces or based off effort. If you are a running mama like me and run a lot with the running stroller this is a great type of workout to do based on effort.
For intervals you can vary the distance, speed, incline, rest, or repetitions to keep your body guessing and to use different systems when running. Be sure to mix up intervals with easy days to help your body recover and reduce your risk of injury.
Fast Finish Runs
I was first introduced to fast finish runs during my marathon training. They are a great way to throw a little extra work into your long runs or tempo runs. They shouldn’t be done every week, but adding them in every 2 weeks or so can be a great addition to your training.
Fast finish runs help your body to learn how to run on tired legs. They train you for the last miles of your race when you enter the “pain train” as I like to call it.
Here is an example of a fast finish run:
*This is an example of a mid-distance fast finish workout. This can be modified depending on your goal race distance or simply adding the 1-2 miles FAST at the end of a long run.
The goal is to hold back enough during your run so that you can push it to the next gear at the end. These will be tiring but will really help you feel strong come your race when your body starts to tire.
Again, it’s important to remember to not put these on the schedule every week but alternate them in to help add something different to your long runs or tempos.
Fartlek stands for “speed play” in Swedish and that is the simplest way to describe the workout. Unlike tempos and interval workouts, fartleks are typically unstructured and alternate various efforts throughout the workout. There aren’t necessarily any set distance parameters for the workout but instead can vary.
Here is an example of a Fartlek workout:
The goal of the Fartlek is to take some of the rigidity out of workouts and to have FUN! They can change throughout the run and even can be made up as you go. It’s a great way to break up the run and keep your body guessing.
For Fartleks it is best to either leave your GPS watch at home or simply turn off the splits so you aren’t focused on pace. These are solely based off effort and running off effort can help take some of the stress away from running workouts.
Bonus: Maintaining Quick Speed and Turnover on Easy Days
It’s important when focusing on workouts that you don’t forget your EASY days! I believe whole heartedly that there is no such thing as “too easy.” Your easy pace will vary from day to day and can change based on various factors as well: sleep, humidity, heat, etc.
A good practice to help maintain your speed and turnover on your easy days is to finish 1-2 easy runs a week with 4-5 strides. This simply means running for 10-15 seconds FAST at the end of the run with full recovery between each. You can walk between strides to make sure your body fully recovers.
If you have 4 miles easy set for the day. Complete the 4 miles and at the end run 4-5 quick strides to help keep your leg turnover strong.
Now that you’ve decided you want to become a faster runner it’s time to put these running workouts in place to help get you to that goal! Alternating these various workouts into your weekly routine can help you become faster, mentally strong, and excited for your next run!
Did you try one of these running workouts? If so, make sure to tag me on your social media so I can cheer you on!