As I laced up my trainers to run my first 10km in more than half a year, I feared that I wouldn’t be able to make the distance and if I did, it wouldn’t be up to “Tashi Standard’s”. Kilometres 7 and 8 were tough, but I was able to meet “Tashi Standard’s”, and the time that I clocked was actually quicker than the 10km’s that I was regularly running last year!
This year I’ve ditched the 10km for the 5km and my training has become more focused on speed and power. If you are looking to increase your speed and knock a few seconds, or minutes off your personal bests, here are a few tips to help you to run as fast as Usain Bolt. I’m kidding; you will never be as fast as Usian Bolt.
With most things in life, in order to get what you want there is an element of manipulation involved. Farlek training is all about manipulating the speed and intensity of your run.
So, how do you do Fartlek training? Instead of running at a continuous pace, add a few speed intervals mid run, to up the intensity and increase your stamina. Increase your speed to point where you are sprinting and once you have finished sprinting, continue to run at your normal running pace. The key to Fartlek training is trying to maintain your speed, after you have finished sprinting. Start off by adding 3-4 sprints and make sure that they are spread out to allow your body to recover.
Most runners, including myself, suffer from self-inflicted Tight Hamstring Syndrome. We can run for 40 minutes without complaining, but a 5-minute stretch is never on the cards because 5 minutes of stretching is far too long!
Take a few minutes out each day to give your hamstrings and glutes a good stretch. My favourite hamstring stretch is really simple to do, all you need to do is touch your toes! Try to keep your legs straight and if you can, rest your chest on your thighs.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves explosive bursts of exercise for a short period of time, and it isn’t just limited to running. Circuit training is another form of HIIT, but if you’re looking to increase your speed I suggest sprinting up a hill. If you don’t have any hills in your area, jump on the treadmill and increase the incline. If you train your body to run uphill, you will be practically flying when you run on flat surfaces.
Try 15-20 rounds of hill sprints with a split of 1:1 (20 seconds on, 20 seconds off) or 2:1 (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off). 20 seconds isn’t a long time, but if you are running uphill as fast as you can, it will feel like 20 years! If 20 seconds isn’t a long enough rest period, up it to 40 seconds. The recovery period is extremely important because you want to be able to give each sprint your all. Note: Your thigh’s are going to BURN!
As well as stretching, your muscles need to rest. I never do more than three consecutive runs because by the fourth run, my body just doesn’t want to know. Space your runs out to give your muscles time to recover and become stronger. I usually run on Tuesday’s, Thursday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s.
Before you even step foot on the pavement or treadmill, get a gait analysis to find out what kind of runner you are and which shoes you need. You will be able to get this done at any running shop. Without the correct footwear, not only will you struggle to run fast, you will also damage your feet!
On your marks, get set, go! See you at the finish line.