A great equalizer in our sport is that all runners who choose to compete, no matter if they are world-class or jogger; whether they are male or female; no matter what age, or if they hail from Kentucky or Kenya, all runners want to improve their times.
Age slows us all down a bit, but we have our age groups, which always keep us competitive, at any age.
Like a sturdy structure, our improvement as runners, junior or geriatric, rests on four major pillars.
Keep these pillars sturdy, and your running times WILL improve.
Let's examine the pillars of running improvement.
1. Speed Work-If you're not racing, you had better be running a speed workout this week. Speed work enables us to become faster because, well, we run faster. Run your speed sessions FASTER than your race pace. Repeat 400s are ideal for 5K races. Mile repeats are great for marathons. Remember, shorten your rest intervals for better results.
2. Tempo Runs-You can run a tempo run in addition to, or instead of your speed workout. Select a distance from 2 to 5 miles, jog a warm up mile, and run your tempo run at about 75% of your race pace. Cool down with a mile
3. Long(er) Run-Again, once a week if you're not racing. Now, here's the key. No smelling the roses on your long run. Make it count. In other words, run your long run at a steady pace. I'll give you an example. Before the 2013 Boston Marathon I ran four 20-mile long runs. My pace for the 20-milers was between 7:15 to 7:30 a mile. I ran the marathon in a time of 3:04:13, a 7:03 pace. If you're running 5K races, your long run really doesn't have to be over 8 miles, but make it a quality 8 miles.
Seeing a pattern here? If you want to race faster, you must train faster...most of the time.
4. Rest Days-Now, THESE are the days you should be smelling the roses. Run with your kids, your spouse, the dogs. Enjoy, take a selfie. Get out there and run, but allow your legs to rest. If you are running high-quality speed workouts and long runs, and if you throw in a tempo run, you must give your body a break..
If these four pillars are the foundation of your weekly running, your race times will tumble.
Now, if you want to get personal, visit www.fiverr.com, go to 'Running Shorts,' and I can write you a personalized training plan, which will incorporate the four pillars. I've written hundreds of them for runners all over the world.
My books, at www.muldowneyrunning.com, and amazon.com/author/joemuldowney, offer valuable training advice, as does my training offer on the site. Check out the "Super Sevens" chapter in Personal Best, and you will achieve running success.