If you want to step up your running game, workout intensity trumps time. You won’t see an improvement pounding the pavement for 30 minutes at the same pace for two weeks. If you want to get faster, you have to put in more effort.
How to Improve Running Speed
Your speed has nothing to do with the length of time you run. If you run at the same, slower pace every day — whether it’s 30 minutes or 60 minutes — you aren’t engaging the right muscle groups. You need to engage your fast-twitch muscles to get your body used to going faster. You engage those muscles by running faster. An effective workout can be achieved in 30 minutes if you push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Types of Workouts
If you’re crunched for time but still want to get a run in, intervals, tempo runs and track workouts are effective ways to use your time and improve speed. If you’re new to speed work, start by doing two higher-intensity workouts per week. These workouts, which are characterized by shorter periods of increased effort, are designed to push the body out of its comfort zone and get it used to running faster. According to the American Council on Exercise, intervals should be done at 80 to 95 percent of your maximum aerobic capacity.
How Often You Should Run
Running every day for two weeks is tough on the body. The repetitive pounding puts a lot of pressure on your joints. Everyone needs a day off. Research shows about 70 percent of runners sustain an overuse injury each year. Joette Godvin, certified running coach of Road Runners Club of America, recommends that beginner and intermediate runners pound the pavement five days a week and do some form of cross training — biking, swimming, strength training — the remaining two days. More advanced runners can run six days per week, but even the pros need at least one day to recover.
When You Will See Results
Most training plans last 12 weeks, which is when you will likely see the results of your hard work, says Gdovin. Beginners will see results faster than more advanced runners because there is a larger margin for improvement. Running takes patience and commitment. You may not see a significant improvement in two weeks, but if you stick with it and follow a structured training plan, you will begin to shave minutes off your mile times.
- American Council on Exercise: High-Intensity Interval Training
- Sports Health: Suspected Mechanisms in the Cause of Overuse Running Injuries
- Joette Gdovin, Road Runners Club of America, Certified Running Coach; Tampa, Florida
- Run Vie: Welcome to RunVie Racing