This is the end of our journey. It lasted a full ten episodes and had a specific purpose: to take you from the couch to the street. To run, of course!
I hope I have intrigued you and also, why not, challenged you: to try but more importantly to keep at it. And, come to this point, I think your spirit is strong and eager to continue.
You have realized that you can start running, you know how to choose the right shoes to do it, and you know how to do it with admirable posture. You know how to dress, how to get through the impasses, how not to hurt yourself.
There is still something missing from this list of things, isn’t it? We’re still talking about running, and when you’ve figured out how to do it and got the hang of it, you get a new urge: to run even more, faster and longer. It is natural, there is nothing wrong with it.
In short, I’ll leave you with the last two pieces of advice plus a bonus track: let’s talk about how to run faster and longer, and at the end I’ll give you another piece of advice, which looks a lot like a challenge.
Shall we start with this last run?
Accelerate and go faster
You have realized that you can run and you do it with some satisfaction. The time has come to move your limit a little further. It may be about improving a time or (as we will see later) running longer.
To run the same distance in less time there is only one solution: run faster.
How to do it? You have to gradually get your body used to doing this. You could try to shave a minute off each of your runs, on the same distance, and you would be doing something that is more fruitful to do in smaller, more intense doses.
Accelerating over the entire distance is in fact a kind of very slow stretching. Wait: I still haven’t told you what a progression run is. It’s simple: it involves running for a certain distance faster than you normally do. You can do it for 60, 100, 150 meters or as much as you feel like: the goal is to run harder for a certain distance, nothing simpler. Since you don’t have a metric string on your head, however, you will have to help yourself measure this distance in two ways: either by knowing it precisely (for example, on the athletic track, which is exactly 400 m long) or by measuring it with the GPS or smartwatch on your wrist.
If you don’t feel like being so precise and like to be more punk there is also another method: it is caller fartlek, a kind of game (the root of the word is Swedish and means “game of speed”) that consists of identifying a goal and speeding up until you reach it. It can be a road sign, a tree, a gate, the important thing is that it is not 5 meters away from you (too easy!) but at a certain distance.
When you are familiar with the progression runs you can move on to the next level, the one that everyone who is serious about improving faces: the strides.
What is the purpose of this type of training also called “quality” training? It trains your heart to endure greater efforts, gradually getting it used to doing so. One of your heart many qualities-aside from the certainly primary one of keeping you alive-is its adaptability: if you use it the same way all the time, it adapts to staying in its comfort zone and taking you running at the same speed all the time. Instead, if you want it to help you go faster, you have to teach it that it can speed up the beat. At first you will feel it explode in your chest but as time and training go on it will adjust to the faster pace. What happened? In a nutshell, the same thing that happened to you who at first struggled to run a kilometer and now 10 kilometers are just fine: you have raised your aerobic threshold and, to put it simply, you know how to use oxygen better to fuel your muscles.
How and when to do strides
If you go out 3 times a week, I recommend that you devote at least one workout to “quality,” no more. When to do the strides? At the end of your workout, instead of dragging yourself wearily toward the imaginary finish line, challenge yourself by accelerating for a few hundred meters, perhaps in two or three sessions.
If you love programs, you can find a dedicated one here.
Or, in other words, “endure more.” If your usual 8-10 km run is no longer enough for you, it is time to listen to your inner voice and work on increasing your mileage.
How to accomplish this? Running slower and longer or, in other words, working at low intensity. In some ways, training endurance is the opposite of training speed, although it gives you benefits over speed as well. In fact, it is a more prolonged training over time and more mental: you have to get used to running slower (sounds like a paradox, right?) but longer.
What does speed have to do with it? It has something to do with it because training your endurance and especially your mind’s response to prolonged exertion, fortifies your ability to handle fatigue and hard moments. And those who also train speed know what I am talking about.
In short, there is a link between speed and endurance (or distance), and it is the power of the mind.
How and when to train endurance
Since this is a more time-consuming workout, I recommend doing it when you can take your time. A great classic is the long run during the weekend. What is a long run? It is a workout longer than usual, very simply. One out of 3 or 4 weekly workouts can be devoted to endurance work. If you want more details, read here.
One last thing
I promised you a final advice/challenge, because this is not a farewell but only a goodbye.
Today you figured out how to challenge yourself even more to improve, going stronger and further.
What can motivate and challenge you in the coming weeks and months? Race. You are ready or prepared to try, or at least to think about it.
It can be a 5K, a 10K or a half, a little further. Even a marathon, why not? Consider that a 5k is not half the size of a 10k except in terms of distance, just as a 10k is not slightly less than half the size of a half marathon. These are races that require different preparation and strategies because they involve differently distributed energy use.
But this is not the place to discuss it. We have had a beautiful journey and it is time to say goodbye.
You are already thinking about which race to run, aren’t you? I knew it!
Happy racing :)
THE GUIDE TO START RUNNING
Running faster and longer