It has definitely been gradual- when I first started running my splits were usually between 10-10.30min miles. In fact, I prided myself on running very consistent splits. Right now though I’m teaching my body to run faster consistent splits, and am aiming for sub 9min miles for the Berlin marathon in a few months time.
Here’s what I’ve been working on to improve my speed;
No more junk miles
I’m actually running less often than I have done in previous marathon training cycles, but this time around all of my miles have a purpose. Whether it’s a shake out run to get rid of lactic acid, the classic long run, speed work or a tempo run- there’s a reason behind every mile. I’m also adding additional warm up miles to each run- they were always my slowest mile of each run, so planning in a half or full mile warm up mean that my first real mile is on target pace.
Running with Faster Friends
I used to be scared and embarrassed to run with friends that were faster than me, worried that I would slow them down and annoy them. I’ve since realised how ridiculous that is, I don’t mind running with friends that are slower than me, so why would the speedy legs mind slowing down to run with me occasionally?! I know that I originally increased my speed a year or so ago after running with friends and talking while we ran, that then translated into running faster when I wasn’t talking!
I love trying new classes, and recently I am loving taking Boxing classes at my gym. They’re fab for cardio and strength work. I really noticed during the Paris marathon that it was my core that let me down and needed a lot of work. I am concentrating on strengthening my core, through Reformer Pilates classes, as well as exercises at the gym. I’m completing weekly workout sessions that target my arms, legs and back too. Additionally I am loving including walking, hiking, cycling and other cardio activities (like rock climbing) as part of my training.
Including speed work, including 400m, 800m and KM repeats, at a pace where I feel a little (or a lot) sick at the end is helping a faster pace while out on longer runs feel normal. They are great for building physical and mental strength, plus running without music or other stimulation helps focus on my breathing and pacing.I know these sessions will help me kick the pace for the final 800m of the Berlin marathon.
Having confidence in yourself is crucial if you want to get faster. You have to believe that you can do it, both in training and during a race. You also have to be aware that it will be painful- a new PB isn’t going to come easily. It’s meant to hurt. If I don’t feel a like vomming when I cross the finish line of a race then I know I wasn’t pushing hard enough. You can’t give up, even if you might not meet your main time goal, you keep pushing to get as close to it as possible. ‘If you think you can or you can’t, you’re right’. After the Paris marathon, where it took a lot of mental strength and determination to keep pushing through the final mile even after I knew that I’d missed my time goal, I feel that I am much more aware of how much mental toughness comes in to play, and know this can be one of my biggest strengths.
Quite simply, I am pushing myself to run faster. Yes it is uncomfortable to run faster, but the more you push yourself, the more your body will get used to running at that speed. I sometimes balk at speeds that I am supposed to run my splits, particularly during a progression run- a 7.30min mile at the end of a 6 mile run is hard, but it’s worth it.
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