Running speed is often seen as a marker of physical fitness -- the faster you can run, the fitter you are. Although there are exceptions to the rule, it's usually an accurate measure.
But running speed is also a matter of training. Just like learning an instrument or a language, if you want to run faster, you have to practice running faster.
To reach the 10-minute-mark, follow a weekly training routine that includes interval training, long runs and easy runs, and be sure to allow for proper recovery time.
Once or twice a week, practice running as fast as you can for short periods of time, followed by equal periods of recovery. This is called interval training, and it's the cornerstone of any program aimed at increasing running speed.
You can do this type of interval training in a couple ways:
- On your regular running route, warm up at an easy pace for about 10 minutes. When you're warm, increase your pace to a fast run or sprint for 30 seconds to a minute. Slow back down to your easy pace for a couple minutes, then increase your pace for another 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat this six or eight times, then cool down.
- On a running track, pick a distance to sprint. You can start with 200 meters, which is halfway around a standard-size track. Warm up for five to 10 minutes, by jogging a few laps around the track. Then, break into an all-out sprint for 200 meters. Recover by walking or jogging around the track one time. Then, do another sprint. Repeat for six rounds, then cool down.
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It may seem nonsensical to practice running 3 or 4 miles when all you want to do is run one fast one. But training your body's endurance is important. If you can run 3 miles at an easy pace, it stands to reason that you'd be able to push hard for 1 mile. If you can run 5 miles at an easy pace, chances are you can run 3 miles at the 10-minute mark; and so on.
You only need to do one long run a week. Start with a manageable distance depending on your current mileage, and continue to increase by a half mile every other week. How long your long run ends up to be depends on your goal distance, what cycle of your training you're in, and how much time you have. If you're training for a 5k, for example, you might top out at 5 miles a few weeks before the race, then taper down.
Take It Easy
Your body needs time to recover from hard workouts, and overdoing it will actually slow you down. On days you're not doing speed work and long runs, take it easy. Go out for 2 or 3 miles at an easy pace, just to keep the legs warm.
Alternating running days with days of rest or cross training will also aid recovery. Take at least one day off a week, and choose another activity you like -- biking is a great one because it's non impact -- to do on your non-running days.
Building strength in your legs and core, especially, but also in your upper body, will help make you faster. Twice a week, do a simple body weight routine -- or head to the gym -- to target all the major muscle groups.
Squats, lunges, step ups, push-ups, pull-ups and rows work all the major muscles groups in your upper and lower body. For the obliques, abs and low back, do crunches, planks, Russian twists and Supermans.
Plan to strength train on an off-day or after an easy run -- not after a long run or speed workout.
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