I don’t know of a single person who would not like to improve their running performance, whether it is increasing speed or running endurance. But since we are all different, the same option will work for some, but for others, it will be a waste of time.
Option 1. The quieter you drive – the further you will
Yes, nothing new. But listen to how much you can improve your results! I myself do not like to stretch pleasure, and the desire to achieve everything and as soon as possible often prevails over caution. I’m lucky so far, and the only unpleasant consequences are hellish muscle pain.
Some of my acquaintances were not so lucky. There can be a lot of punishment options for such impatience: from microtraumas to fractures. Therefore, here is an example from the life of a person who was able to achieve amazing results through patience and perseverance. And soon he will achieve even more!
So, meet Craig Beasley from Canada. Craig started running two years ago and at that time could only run for 30 seconds, and then he switched to a step and walked for 4.5 minutes. Then he ran again for 30 seconds. He repeated this cycle eight times for a total of 40 minutes. He tried not to miss and trained three times a week.
30 weeks later, Beasley was able to run without stopping for 30 minutes and completed his first half marathon in 2 hours and 12 minutes. He decided to continue exercising and trained even in freezing temperatures in winter. In May, he was already able to run non-stop for 2 hours 45 minutes and make six approaches of 400 meters in 1 hour 45 minutes. The first marathon is ahead of him.
Try increasing the distance gradually. For example, increase by 1 km at the end of each week for three consecutive weeks (for example, 5, 6, 7 km), and in the fourth week, take a vacation, rest, and recuperate. Then again start adding 1 km.
Option 2. Bart Yasso method
This training option was used by Bart Yasso, Runner’s World Race Manager. It is about running 800 meters at the same speed as you plan to run your first marathon. That is if you want to run it in 4 hours 30 minutes, try to run 800 meters in 4 minutes 30 seconds. This training was written about 10 years ago, and since then this method has gained many fans.
Doug Underwood is one of the many fans of this technique. He has only been running for three years and has already run two marathons in 3 hours 55 minutes and 3 hours 53 minutes. After that, he really wanted to take part in the Boston Marathon and decided to get serious about his training. His training was based on the Yass method.
To get to the Boston Marathon, you need to meet in 3 hours and 30 minutes. So Underwood decided to train until he ran 800 meters in 3 minutes 30 seconds, and combine 10 sets in one run, inserting a jog for 3 minutes 30 seconds between fast runs.
As a result, Underwood ran the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon in 3 hours 30 minutes 54 seconds. That was enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
What is the best way to train? Try running Yasso’s plan once a week. Start with 4-5 intervals of 800 meters at the speed you set for yourself, and then add one interval per week until you reach 10.
Option 3. Long and slow running
Megan Arbogast has run marathons for five years now, and her best result is 2 hours 58 minutes. Everything would be fine, but there is one problem: during the preparations for the marathon, she brought herself to exhaustion.
And starting in 1998, she began to train according to a program that was developed by Warren Finke, a famous trainer from Portland. Finke believes that a marathon runner should focus on light running that will help him achieve the desired level of endurance without injury every few months. He believes many runners train too hard, get injured, and then never reach their upper limit.
Finke’s program is based on effort-based learning. He believes that if a runner runs at a speed that is 80% of his standard pace, he will achieve better results than if he runs at a speed that is 90%. Only 10% of the difference helps to avoid injury and achieve the desired results.
And this program helped Megan a lot. Two years after starting training with this system, she improved her personal result to 2 hours 45 minutes.
How to train with this system? If you are running 10 km at an average pace (a kilometer in 7 minutes 30 seconds), then try running the same distance at a kilometer pace in 9 minutes 23 seconds. That is, you just need to take your pace and multiply by 1.25.
Option 4: Record Each Workout
When you’ve been running a marathon for 25 years and have a Ph.D. in Physiology, you know a few interesting things about training. Bill Pearce, Chair of the Department of Health at the University of Fermanagh, has developed a program that works great. At 53, Pierce runs a marathon in 3 hours and 10 minutes – not much slower than when he ran his first marathon 20 years ago.
The secret is that Pierce runs three days a week, but these days he trains to wear and tear. In the remaining four days, he simply rests: he does not run at all, but can arrange for himself a strength training or play tennis.
Pierce creates a work plan for each workout that includes speed and distance. One day he runs a long distance at a slow pace. On the second day, he runs intervals, and on the third, he arranges for himself a tempo workout. It works at a higher intensity than others recommend, but by alternating workouts, the risk of injury is reduced. This training plan proved to be ideal for Pierce, and he has been practicing it for many years.
Pierce’s workout schedule: interval workout on Tuesdays, pace workouts on Thursdays, long-distance at a slow pace on Sundays. Interval training – 12 reps of 400 meters or six reps of 800 meters at a pace just above the one in which he is running his 5K. On tempo days, Pierce runs 4 miles 10–20 seconds faster than the pace at which he runs his 10K. Finally, a long, slow run – 15 miles at a pace 30 seconds slower than his marathon pace. You can calculate your schedule in the same way.
Option 5. Practice plyometrics
Plyometrics is a sports technique that uses the percussion method. In the modern sense – jumping training. Plyometrics are used by athletes to improve athletic performance that requires speed, agility, and power. Plyometrics are sometimes used in the fitness and are a staple of parkour training. Plyometric exercises use explosive, fast movements to develop muscle strength and speed. These exercises help the muscles develop the most effort in the least amount of time possible.
Dina Drossin is one of America’s best female runners of all time. She once asked Weatherford, a coach at the US Olympic Committee’s Training Center in Chula Vista, California, to develop a special program that would allow her to develop endurance and improve speed.
Weatherford said he hasn’t worked with long-distance runners, but he will try. He ended up coming back with two ideas that worked great. Weatherford and Drossin started with strengthening the body and continued with explosive plyometrics for the legs, with a focus on basics and prioritizing quality over quantity.
Drossin performed various types of jumps and after these training ran the London Marathon with her new personal (and American) record – 2 hours 21 minutes 16 seconds. And this is 5 minutes faster than her result before this marathon.
Try to incorporate jumping into your workouts. For example, running with short, brisk strides of 15–20 meters. This is when you run in small steps, quickly moving your legs and lifting your knees quite high, but not too much. Use your arms vigorously while running. Rest and then repeat 6-8 more times. Train in this way 1-2 times a week, adding 5 minutes of different jumps (on one leg, on two legs, and so on). Jumps are performed on soft grass or ground.
Option 6. Long tempo workouts
Military Patrick Noble ran his first marathon in 1986 in 3 hours 15 minutes, feeling like a hero. Noble decided not to stop there and ran 50 marathons without breaking his barrier at 3 o’clock. But on 52 times he managed to jump over his head: he ran a marathon in 2 hours 58 minutes 23 seconds. Patrick believes that his special approach to training – running at a fast pace for long distances – helped him.
The standard approach to tempo training is that you run for 20 to 40 minutes at a speed that is 10 to 20 seconds slower than your 10K pace. Noble raised the bar to 60 minutes. In the end, this is what helped him overcome the barrier in the 52nd marathon. At least he thinks so.
Try doing long tempo workouts once a week for eight weeks. Start with 20 minutes at a pace 10–20 seconds slower than your average pace at a 10K distance. And add 5 minutes to your workout every week. After your tempo workouts, remember to take yourself 1–2 days of complete rest.
Option 7. Run fast and long
This option does not work for everyone and is the opposite of Option # 3. Meet Scott Strand, the fast long-distance runner. Recently, he was able to improve the result of his marathon by 4 minutes: his time was 2 hours 16 minutes 52 seconds.
During his training, he ran 18 to 23 miles. And for the last 9-14 miles, he ran at a marathon pace and even faster.
Heavy training at a fast pace over long distances was brought into fashion by Khalid Hanouchi, the world marathon record holder. And if earlier it was considered important to stay on their feet for 2-3 hours, now many people prefer to take a high pace and run as fast as possible at the end of the distance.
Try to run very fast for the last 25% of your distance, gradually increasing your pace. In the end, you will most likely feel like a squeezed lemon, but that doesn’t mean you need to drive yourself like a racehorse. As a result, you will feel your pace and can gradually increase it.
You can try all seven methods and eventually choose one or more. The main thing is that they really help you, and do not harm you.
Be careful, pay close attention to your inner feelings, and you will definitely be able to run your first marathon or improve on the next.