If you have running faster longer as a goal the most important tip I can give is to be patient.
Patience and persistence are the two more crucial attributes to champions in this sport because the results simply don’t come overnight.
They cannot be rushed.
The body will respond provided you have the patience to see them come to fruition.
You want your mind to be thinking one thing when you race. I can sustain this pace.
The patient and persistent do damage while the hasty and impatient grow more confused, frustrated and tired.
It takes approximately 21 days for the body to adapt to the stress you place on it. – Jack Hazen, 2012 Men’s and Women’s Olympic Team Head Coach
The results of the workouts you do today will be evident in your racing weeks down the road, not in a day or two.
The hardest part is being patient enough to see the physiological adaptations from that training take effect.
If you are an endurance athlete running events from the 5K to the marathon distance running faster longer is the key to maintaining race pace.
Running Faster Longer In Your Long Runs
The goal is to lengthen the amount of time you run at and below your goal race pace?
The will produce more control and leverage over your racing ability.
This won’t happen overnight.
How do you lengthen your long run from 4 miles to 14 miles at race pace? Patience.
The key is to break those long runs into smaller segments.
Running faster longer is all about delayed gratification.
How badly do you want it and how long are you willing to wait to get it?
Break Your Training Into Segments
You wan to run faster for shorter segments of that long run.
For example, try doing 2×3 miles of that 15 miler at race pace.
If I were doing the same workout early in my training this is how it would look.
5 miles relaxed
3 miles@race pace
1 mile easy
3 miles@race pace
3 mile cool-down
15 miles total with 6-miles of that run at race pace.
You want to gradually extend the amount of time you are running at or below goal race pace.
Again, gradually lengthen out the amount of time spent at race pace is key.
Keep It Simple
Running faster longer is about being able to handle ever-increasing amounts of lactic acid. You want to teach the body to clear it faster than it is building in the bloodstream.
Furthermore, as you get fitter your ability to sustain pace longer will come about. For example, the first week you may have had a hard time running 4 miles at race pace. Later, you are able to do 14 miles at the same pace.
This is the power of supercompensation. The body is weakened, then becomes stronger after the workout has been completed. Remember, the results are in the rest.
You will be stronger, more confident and relaxed at race pace.
The Training Should Be Hardest
The training should be the hardest part about preparing for any race. The race should be easy in comparison. The time to be most confident and relaxed is during the race.
Let the others worry about that, not you.
You are teaching your body to handle higher levels of lactic acid without the slow down effect so many other runners experience.
Furthermore, most athletes have not trained the body’s energy systems effectively.
Why Does This Matter Anyway
You have done far too much work not to take this seriously.
You can do everything else right and still miss it. Racing is more then just mileage and too many runners get hung up on this.
Running faster longer is what all the past, present and future runners understand fully.
Emil Zatopek, one of the all-time greats and three-time Olympic gold medalist puts it like this.
Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast – Emil Zatopek, 5000m, 10,000m and marathon Olympic champion
Success in distance running events come not from running miles slow but running them fast. This takes practice and patience. Anyone can run slow for a period of time.
It takes skill to run faster over long periods of time.
There are many runners who understand and train fast.
The real success comes in the rest. How are you training on your recovery days?
Remember, it is not about how many miles per week you run. What percentage of your weekly mileage are you spending at, near or below goal race pace?
Be Smart In Training
You have to know when to back off. If you did a hard track workout yesterday is it wise to run in a group today? A group that may have ran easy that same day and are running too fast today? Remember, the results come in the rest, not the workout itself.
Great results come from making the right decisions when they count most.
It takes more initiative to back down when you know you should then to keep pushing when you know you shouldn’t.
The world’s top runners produce the best results for a reason. They have planned their work and worked their plan effectively.
The goal is to get a return on investment with your training.
Running Faster Longer In Track Workouts
Below are some key workouts I do preparing for the marathon.
Here are a few workouts I did prior to breaking the sub-2:20 marathon barrier.
2×4 miles at 5:05 per mile pace with 1-mile jog recovery.
This is running at approximately 20-seconds per mile faster than my then goal marathon race pace. My goal was to break the sub-2:22:00 marathon.
It was a time I needed to be a part of the United States Army World Class Athlete Program.
How much rest between each set? 7 to 8 minutes max
The goal is to get the heart rate back down to around 120 beats per minute. Then, start again and repeat.
That being said, this is an extremely difficult workout and should not be rushed.
It takes time for the body to adapt to any stress load we place upon it.
They key is getting the workout in early on in your fitness. Don’t expect to magically be able to sustain your goal race pace for an extended period of time.
The faster you train below goal race pace the easier and more controlled race pace is going to feel.
So, for example let’s say you want to hold 8-minute mile pace for the half-marathon distance.
If you are running 8×1 mile repeats on the track at 6 minutes and 30 seconds per rep, what is 8-minute mile pace going to feel like for you?
8 weeks from that workout 7:30 mile pace is going to feel like you are jogging.
The challenge comes early on in the training when a 7:30 mile feels like a sub 4-minute mile.
The results come in the rest
Early on in my training I will work to hit specific goal times for longer running reps such as 2×4 miles.
The recovery mile in between may be 7-10 minutes the first few weeks then lowered to it to 6:30 to 8 mile pace.
You will notice the physiological changes the fitter you get. In addition, your pace will be quickened running at the same heart rate.
10x1000m reps at 4.55 mile pace with 400m recovery at 6.00 mile pace (1.45)
Early on, I will aim to hit these at 5:15 mile pace with a 400m recovery at or around 7.00-7.15 mile pace.
The key is to gradually lower the overall recovery time and maintain the same pace of the hard bursts.
Your workout could be 10x1000m at 8.00 mile pace with a 400m recovery at 9.30 mile pace. The goal is to lower the rest time down to 8.30 mile pace but maintain the same workout intensity,
The paces may be different but the work load and stress are equal. You are learning to maintain with ever-increasing amounts of fatigue.
When you can maintain the same paces when everyone else around you is slowing then you know you have arrived.
This is where our media and magazines are missing it.
The True Key To Running Faster Longer.
You are teaching the body to use less carbohydrate and burn fat more efficiently.
This is the key to running faster longer, period. If you can burn fat relative to your race speeds you are going to see massive improvement.
The faster we run, the more sugars (carbohydrates) are burned.
What we want is to burn more fat stores and conserve carbohydrates longer.
One, you will not experience the wall so many athletes deal with in these distances. Two, you will run with more confidence and aggressively to the finish line.
Yes, you can still do everything right and still miss your goal. That being said, if you train properly your chances for success go up.
Focus On The Long-Term Strategy
Be patient and persistent.
If you miss the time you want to hit during the workout, don’t think about it too long. You can’t bring that workout back. Let it go. Same with racing. Learn what you did right, what you did wrong but don’t let it control you.
You are in control, always remember that.
If you have a running faster longer a top priority I highly encourage you to consider either the sub 2 hour half marathon manifesto or the sub 4 hour marathon blueprint.
I cover a wide-range of topics having to do with running faster in these projects and these tools can help better assist you in your endurance and fitness goals.