Hi! My name is Ken. I'm going to periodically write about running, writing, and a number of other topics. Please feel free to read my posts and provide your comments. If you have a question about any topic, leave a message and I'll try to help you get the information you're looking for. Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Need For Speed

Now let's be honest. Who hasn't said at least once recently "I'd like to see if I can get faster". I have read a number of books and articles about this topic and things can get a little confusing. Should I go to the track and do 400's or 200's? Perhaps I need to increase my cadence when I run aka my number of strides per minute. There's an article by former U.S. Olympian marathoner, Ed Eyestone about doing just that in the September 2011 edition of Runner's World. Some say do hill workouts for a period of time because they're like "intervals in disguise". I do pickups on some of my 5 mile loops because it allows me to do some faster running without going to the track. I typically do a 1-3-5-3-1-2-2 Fartlek circuit, where I warm up with about 4-5 minutes of easy running and then 1 minute fast followed by 1 minute easy. I repeat this process but increase the fast time to 3 and 5 minutes before backing down the fast times 3, 1, 2, and 2. This fits in perfectly with my 5 mile courses.  In Hal Higdon's Book entitled "RUNFAST", he talks about doing flexibility drills to improve speed like 1) high knees and 2) fast feet to improve. High knees requires you to run in place, gradually moving forward while lifting your kness high and landing on the balls of your feet. Fast feet requires a similar motion as high knees except you try to move your feet very fast without the high knee lift.

If you have been looking for ideas how to get faster, try using one or more of these techniques. Let me know what works or doesn't work for you. Just remember that speed training will tire you out so work in easier runs or rest periods after doing these sessions.

Good luck!



  1. Hi Ken, stumbled upon your blog while reading a friend's. I have gotten dramatically faster with hill reps and doing speed work at the track. Though I used to do speed work on the treadmill, the track has gotten me faster. Beautiful lake picture at the top. Where is it?

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  3. Hey Ken, just out of curiosity, what kind of pace are you looking at? And what kind of recovery are you taking? I'm guessing ~5K pace with same time recovery, but that's a complete shot in the dark.

  4. Becki,

    If you mean the pace I do the 1-3-5-3-1-2-2 hard minutes, probably close to 5K pace, which is around 7:10's.
    When I used to go to the track, I would do around 3:22's for 1/2's and 1:32's for 1/4's. Clearly that's faster than the 7:10's with equivalent rests after each fast segment, 1 fast, 1 slower etc...

    I've been trying to drop below 7:00 pace again, but it's been a struggle. I also do a 5 mile time trial occasionally, when I just go as hard as I can for the whole 5 miles. I recently did that around 36:30, which is a 7:18 pace, well above what I'd like to do.

    I'm interested in what you're thinking and any suggestions.



  5. Hey Lizzie,

    Sounds like you've made good progress with your speed workouts. Way to go! Keep at it.

    Regarding that picture, I can't take credit for it. I found it online at a free photo website and they didn't indicate where it's from.

    Thanks for stopping by. I plan on becoming one of your followers. How about you following me?


  6. Rather than trying to speed them up, which you said is a struggle, I'd keep them at the same pace but try to add more volume. 5 minutes is fine for the longest repeat, but it might not hurt to throw more in there. It looks like you're doing a variation on a 1-2-3-5-3-2-1. How about a variation on a 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 or on a 1-2-3-5-5-3-2-1? Alternately, consider two sets of 1-2-3-3-2-1, with a 5 minute break in between.

    Another thing you can try is shortening the recovery. A classic Daniels workout that I like is 2:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 1:00 hard, 0:30 easy, 0:30 hard, 0:30 easy (because 0:15 is too short and would confuse things anyway) for either 6 miles or 10% of your weekly mileage, whichever is less.

    Doing something like that will have you spending more time working at your VO2max than you are currently. Just some ideas, let me know what you think.

  7. I find that my tempo runs help a lot with speed. I also do mile repeats with a 400 recovery in between each. Sometimes I do repeat 800s and those are always fun (I do 6-8).

    Best of luck with your speed. :)

  8. Hey Becki,

    I think your idea of two sets of 1-2-3-3-2-1 or shortening the recovery might work better for me. I have done my workout a number of times with marginal results. It's definitely worth a try. I'll let you know how it goes.


    Thanks for stopping by. The tempo run is another good one that I haven't done lately.
    Which interval distance do you prefer? I like doing 400's or 800's, but I do 1 mile and 200's occasionally too.

  9. Hi Ken, thanks so much for stopping by my blog and being my first visitor and follower. I will keep your suggestions in mind as I attempt to make progress. Will be following your blog as well,

    Best reguards,

  10. Dear Ken,
    Thanks for visiting my blog! Appreciate all your kind advice as well. Will definitely stick to older socks & shoes on race day. Btw, that injured toe is healing.
    Thanks for your info on circuit training here. I also want to increase my tempo and running speed. Will certainly put in more regular track work after next week's race. Cheers!!

  11. Good information on this post, thanks! After I finish the Chicago Marathon I plan to tackle my 5K time and go after a new PR on it. I will come back to this post for tips!


  12. This is great! I am definitely looking to focus more on speed workouts once I finish up with the marathon as my pace has definitely dropped a lot through distance training.
    Love Hal Hidgon, I usually use his training plans as a starting spot when making my own.


Your comments are appreciated!