Running faster by running faster

With time being at a premium at the moment, my plans of upping mileage significantly in order to prepare for a shot at placing high on the Hardmoors 60 leaderboard have had to be modified a little but I’ve not been wasting what time I do have during my morning run commute to work.

This is my unscientific and anecdotal report of the 6 weeks or so since I decided after the Manchester Marathon that I what I needed was to improve my fitness so that my slower runs were faster. The theory being that it represented a “step up” from cruising around at about 8:00-8:15/mile on slow runs to running closer to the 7:30/mile mark. My thinking is that if I could up the effort level just a notch to make 7:30 the new 8:00 a lot of things would happen speed wise over a range of distances. Since running Manchester Marathon in 3:36 which included staying at a comfortable 8:00 pace for the first 20 miles,

I’d also run the first 31 miles of the Dusk til Dawn ultra before withdrawing but found that even in the short space of time since upping my slow run pace, my fitness and strength as well as race speed have improved noticeably without having to really alter my mileage which remains a modest 30-40 a week.

It’s been a bit of an effort but actually not that big a change after a week or so and sometimes it’s worth checking your effort level on slower runs because it’s all too easy to plod on a slow run because that’s what it’s called. I knew I could run comfortably at 7:30 pace for a couple of miles and it be considered “easy” so I figured increasing the amount of time spent at that effort level/speed over a few weeks (with some slower runs in there too to avoid over doing it) would be ok.

Since making the switch in pace, I felt comfortable running in the Dusk til Dawn for the 31 miles (and 5700ft ascent) I completed, I ran the Dovestone Diamond 10k (a tough multi-terrain race) in 44:50 (I’d have been happy with sub 50!) and I managed to sneak in a 18:58 parkrun 5k last weekend. In addition to that, I’ve just done my normal run commute (10k) at a decent but not full on effort and run it in 42:36. That’s only 20 seconds off a PB from the last 10k race I did last year.

So, if you’ve been stuck at the same speed for a while, try running a little bit faster. The results might surprise you.