I wondered for a long time how to get faster. In my cross country days, sometimes it would just happen. I wouldn’t have to think about it because I would just show up to practice every day, run at the meets and suddenly get faster towards the end of the season. As I went onto my non-competitive running career, I didn’t find it to be so easy. That is, until I started studying. Amazing what one can learn from books!
You know what I found out? If I want to run faster, I have to train faster. Rocket science, right? Well, it was to me at the time. When I looked back at my best (and most favorite) cross country season at St. Francis with Coach Moustache, I realized that he created our workouts based on this very principle. Speed days were hard. I mean HARD. We pushed each other and ourselves to beat that dreaded stopwatch as he shouted out our times for 400, 800 and 1200 meter sprints. Guess what happened? By season’s end I was running my fastest times and moved up to #4 on the team (I started at #7 of 7 girls…not so great).
The more I studied, the more I learned that simply running more was not enough to make me faster. Yes, it helped me get in a little bit better shape, but in order to get faster, I’d have to train harder. So, I made weekly speed workouts and hill repeats part of my schedule. I ran them fast, hard and felt myself on the brink of vomiting more often than I care to share with you, but it DID make me faster. A LOT faster. Like, a minute faster. In the running world, that’s equivalent to going from bench pressing 45 pounds to throwing up 500 pounds without breaking a sweat. That’s how it feels to me, anyway.
The moral of the story goes like this: if you want to get faster in races, you have to train faster. Every run should not be done at the same pace every single time. Speed workout should be done at your speediest. Tackling hill repeats should be done with maximum effort every single time. Short races are an awesome opportunity to see how fast you can go after a few weeks of speed drills. You must teach your body to process oxygen and other nutrients faster and get it to your muscles and lungs so you can be a speed demon. Remember, if you’re not working at a 10 (or as Monty Python says, 11), you’ll never get over that hump to find out how fast you can reeeeeally go.
Work hard and you will see results. Loaf around on your runs and you’ll stay where you are. It’s your choice. But just for kicks, what would happen if you gave speed a shot?
Now go out and run!