When I first started running a 10 minute mile seemed really fast. I would try to stick to that pace on training runs but often couldn’t keep it up during long runs and races. I finished 3 half marathons in 2.18, 2.17 and 2.15, and ran my first marathon in 4.54.59 – an 11.15 min mile average pace.
I ran the Berlin Marathon last year at an 8.45 min mile pace, and am aiming to run Chicago at an 8.10 min mile.
I read a lot of blogs and know other runners that don’t seem to be experiencing pace increases, some of those are super speedy already, or those that seem to have found a steady pace and stuck with it, which is great if that’s what you want. But I get a lot of readers and friends asking me just how I’m getting speedier, so I thought I’d share a little of my experience.
Firstly, you should know that I am stubborn and really competitive- not ideal or attractive traits in real life, but pretty useful when it comes to marathon training. I don’t give up easily, and have been known to literally give myself a talking to during a training run or race. I think a lot of people are actually held back physically by their mental attitude.
Stop making excuses for why a training run or race didn’t go right. Look at what happened, and work out what went wrong and why. Having to text Kerry with all of my workouts means that unless there’s a really good reason, like injury, then the workout has to be done and done at top effort. I just have to suck it up, work hard and complete the workouts to the best of my ability- no excuses.
Having confidence in yourself, in your ability and in your training is key to success. When someone sets the workouts for me, and believes that I can hit the paces, it gives me the confidence to know that I can achieve them.
It is hard. Really, really hard. But if it wasn’t hard then you wouldn’t see improvements. It’s normal to feel scared or nervous when looking at hard workouts, but they make you stronger- physically and mentally. Yes it’s painful, but the results are worth it. I’ve retched during a tempo run, been sick during Yasso 800s and cried during long runs. You need to be pushing yourself if you want to see your paces drop.
I’m running faster. Sounds simple, but my mile repeats, 400m repeats and Yasso 800s are faster than ever. These shorter distance workouts are great for getting some speed into my training, and not as overwhelming as jumping straight into speedier long runs.
Marathon training is time consuming, especially when you’ve got a specific time goal in mind. I’ve had to say NO to some workouts with friends and to some fun events, either because I had to run (or go to Barre) or because I couldn’t afford to do an unplanned workout that could negatively effect a key workout.
Cut the junk miles– I’m only running 3 times a week, which is working well to avoid burn out, overtraining and injury (hoping niggly knee is no longer going to be an issue although I’m still looking after it).
It’s not just about running, it’s about strengthening your body. Regular Barrecore barre classes have improved my core, as well as upper body strength and, importantly my glutes and quads. A strong core helps stabilise your body, whilst strong arms and legs help propel you forwards!
Find out when the best time of day is for your run, as much as I love running in the morning, I know that for really hard workouts, my body is more prepared to run at the end of the day. I’ve been running a lot in the evening this summer!!
Are you trying to run faster? Or are you concentrating on running longer? Any tips for other runners out there that you’d like to share?