5 Things You Can Do in Training to Improve Your Race Time

© Dirima | Dreamstime.com

© Dirima | Dreamstime.com

1) Pace runs

Practicing running portions of your long runs at goal pace is a great tool for improving speed. Not only is it a great confidence builder on race day, but it gets your legs used to running at your goal pace.

Begin with a few miles early in your training cycle and build up to running your goal pace for half the distance of your ultimate race, whether it’s a 10K, half marathon or full marathon.

2) Speed work

Speed work is key for runners looking to improve their times in races. Once you are ready to not just complete a goal distance, but race it, adding a weekly speed session can help.

Aim for workouts that will serve you best for your goal distance — such as 400 meter repeats for 10Ks, 800 meter repeats for half marathons, and so on.

3) Pick ups/striders

This is probably the simplest tool that distance runners can use to add speed. After you finish an easy-to-moderate run, perform 4 to 8 series of striders.

Using controlled form, start with short, quick strides and then gradually lengthen your stride and increasing your speed. Run anywhere from 100 meters to 30 seconds, walk or lightly jog back to the start, and repeat.

4) Progressive runs

Controlled progressive runs can help runners not only increase speed, but get their bodies used to the idea of a negative split race. Progressive runs begin at a warm-up pace and get faster with each mile.

Though it might sound counter-intuitive to speed up the further you run, the idea of leaving enough fuel in to tank to finish strong is a great tool for race day.

5) Hill repeats

Repeatedly running up hills is actually speed work in disguise. Most running is done at an aerobic level, but hill sprints often cross into the anaerobic zone.

These workouts are particularly useful for 5K and 10K runners, but are beneficial to any runner looking to increase their speed. As an added bonus, hill repeats allow you to strengthen those under-utilized muscles required to climb.

2 comments… add one
  • Evelyn October 13, 2015, 12:15 am

    For me, hill repeats work like a charm. If you repeat the same hill, it’s basically another form of interval training. If you run up & down different hills during a same run, it’s like a fartlek. I began doing hill repeats after my first half marathon since I bonked on a steep hill during that race. And I cut 2 minutes off my PR at my second half marathon despite a (much) hillier course.
    Be careful not to start running hills too fast or too steep, though – injuries can easily happen if your muscles do not have enough time to adjust to different patterns.

  • Tony Wesley March 16, 2015, 3:52 pm

    All of these seem like good ideas, but for me one worked best. One year, I consistently did 400 meter repeats and it helped immensely. I had my PR in the half and got third on my age group.

    When running them right, they are incredibly depleting. But they pay off.

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