Running More for Speed and Endurance

author : BobbyMcgee
comments : 0

Member Question:
So I decided that it's about time that running and I become friends. I know that the only way to get better at running is to RUN LOTS, and I'm working on that part. The current plan is to run 4 days a week, with one being a LSD.


My first focus is endurance. I can run 2-3 miles (20-30 minutes) ok, but over the next few months I'd love to build up to running for an hour, or even 90 minutes, and walk away from it without injury or unreasonable discomfort. I'm willing to be patient and build up my distances gradually.  But I have questions:

- Will running more naturally lead to more endurance? I'd love to be able to run the whole 10k in an oly and in the next couple years maybe even try a HIM, but I need to be able to run a lot longer than a half hour for that.
- Will running more increase my speed at all? Or will I just have to focus on speed separately, once I can run long enough to make it worth it?

Answer:
Your question raises some very relevant issues for triathletes who, as you say, “want to become friends with running”.

Employ the 'Run/Walk method

First, why bother trying to run the whole way in an Olympic distance tri, when what you could be working on is run/walking it faster than you are now? As an Olympic triathlon coach I am amazed that the myth of “being able to run the whole way”, still persists. Let me clarify: Let’s say you are currently able to complete a 10km off the bike in 70 minutes; is the goal to complete it in less time next time, or to run the whole way? By proactively walk/running the whole way by, for example, running for 8 minutes and walking for 1 minute, you are most likely to already be able to complete the distance in 1 to 3 minutes faster. By planning your run training in this fashion (using regular planned walk breaks), you will be able to safely and effectively increase your endurance, run volume and race running speed, (especially when considering that dream of completing a half IM!).

Some other answers that arise from your questions are:

  • Increase your volume by adding more frequent runs of limited volume. For example 4 runs per week of 20 minutes will increase your fitness more than say 2 runs of 40 minutes and have the added bonus of decreased fatigue and reduced injury risk. Long runs are runs just longer than 30 minutes for you at this stage.
     

  • A good rule of thumb is to not increase your weekly run volume (in minutes or miles) by more than about 10 to 15%. Also take an easier week of about 25% or less of your current volume every third week. Let’s say you are currently running 10 miles per week. For the next 2 weeks run 11miles & 12 miles. Then run a week of 8 miles, before adding 10% onto 12 miles for the 4th week.

Running more for speed and endurance:

  1. Yes, running more, if it is controlled and does not lead to injury or other breakdown will definitely lead to more endurance. Walking will also increase your muscle endurance in your legs and provide an alternative to running on days when your legs feel too sore to run, but you feel you can walk some. To run the whole 10km might need you to be able to complete several weeks (6+) of around 15 miles per week of which some 80%+ should be easy, 10-15% at around lactate threshold (LT) and just 5% a little faster (no more than a mile’s worth) .
     

  2. Regarding “speed”, this is a greatly misunderstood concept for triathletes. As your endurance increases, so will the muscle endurance in your legs. This in turn will definitely enable you to run faster. However the law of specificity prevails: Once your legs are strong enough the best way to speed up is to run some training sessions faster.
     
    For your purpose at the moment and the foreseeable future I would consider “speed” as the speed you might be able to maintain were you to run a 5km on fresh legs without preceding it with a 20km bike ride—i.e. flat out. By knowing your flat 5km ability you can easily determine your safe speed for quality workouts. If you run a 5km race on fresh legs in 30:00, then your 400m pace is 2:24. So a workout of 6-8X400m with a 90sec walk recovery between each, would be safest & most effective in the 2:18 to 2:22 range.

Running is often the hardest skill to master for the beginner triathlete as it uses by far the most muscle and is totally unsupported, thus placing a greater demand on the body than the other 2 sports. Add to this the fact that it is the last of the 3 events in a triathlon it becomes obvious why we need to master this event in order to succeed as triathletes.

Good luck as you continue to master this wonderful sport.

 



Bobby McGee is a highly successful Olympic level coach who has honed his skills over 25 years having worked with a number of the sports greats.
His new manual Running Sports Essentials, which includes detailed programs for the above activities, is available from his website: www.BobbyMcGee.com.  You can also get a copy of his critically acclaimed book Magical Running on the mental skills required to succeed in endurance sports from his website.

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date: October 3, 2006

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BobbyMcgee

Bobby McGee is an internationally acclaimed endurance coach who has produced an Olympic Champion, world champions and numerous world record holders. Through his coaching, lecturing and writing, he has become a much sought after figure in the world of human potential fulfillment.

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avatarBobbyMcgee

Bobby McGee is an internationally acclaimed endurance coach who has produced an Olympic Champion, world champions and numerous world record holders. Through his coaching, lecturing and writing, he has become a much sought after figure in the world of human potential fulfillment.

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