Q. How to run faster?

A friend of mine who has been running for about 3 years now and really got the running bug, asked me for some advice on how to get faster and I thought I’d put it on here, see if it helps anyone else.

He’s done really well in the last few years, really learning a lot about himself and about running, and smashed his marathon PB at the London Marathon this year by getting 2:43! Truly amazing. 

Anyway, he wants to get faster, and whilst I could probably never dream of running 6 minute miles (2:37 marathon), he wants to aim for a 2:40 marathon (2:30 maybe!), 1:13 half marathon and 34 minute 10k.

Q. Could you suggest some sort of easy to remember tracks sessions I could incorporate into my training week please?

It would be lunchtime so it would need to be a 40 min. This is a typical training week for me, see what you think. I still don’t think I train that hard to be honest:

Mon – Circuits
Tues – Club Run (hard speedwork)
Wed – Easy / Tempo
Thurs – Speedwork
Fri – Circuits
Sat – Medium / long run
Sun – Rest

  • I currently train on average 35-40 miles a week over 4-5 days.
  • I like to try and incorporate at least one speedwork session and usually end my longer runs at tempo pace.
  • I do a lot of my running at lunchtime so I can be at home in the evenings.
  • I can only make the Running Club one night a week (Tuesdays). 
  • I also ride to work which is around 35 miles a week. 
  • Willing to add track sessions to Thursdays lunchtime if it gets me a faster 10ks and halfs.

Here’s my reply to him:

First off, I’d take a look at this book here:  The Competitive Runners Handbook by Bob Glover.  It has everything you need to know about running and running competitively, in there.

Looking at your sessions you could alternate the Thursday run as being Speedwork (as detailed below) or Hill Work.  I’d aim to do the speedwork on a set route, say out to Glasgow Green and back / loops around the Clyde Bridges, or on a track if you can get to one, and if it doesn’t bore you too much.  Personally I’d get a route which is mainly traffic free an flattish, but you might prefer a track.

I’ve said below that I think you should have two full rest days a week, so if you wanted to do Tempo runs, either do them on Thursdays, as part of your long runs, or on a day where you do circuits (morning or whatever).  I’m only saying two rest days as I’ve learned that it seems to be the best way to not push yourself and burn out.  Less is most definitely more (in my honest opinion). 

On your long runs, you could make some runs slow, and have others progressive: (ideas here: https://lornpearsontrains.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/progressive-training-runs-for-the-half-marathon/ )
12 miles
3 miles slow
3 miles steady
3 miles fast
3 miles faster than lightning!
Or tempo as part of your long runs.

You could play about with your long runs and introduce speed work within your long runs, but be careful you don’t overdo it.  Make sure you get rest and recovery after hard / long runs.

I’d maybe learn to use your heart rate to see how much you are pushing it too:
If you want any help with this let me know. 

Rest is very important

Rest is very important, it’s when your body recovers and rebuilds to become stronger.

Try to decide which workouts are important to your goals, and which aren’t.  If you’re tired one week, then ditch the ones that aren’t as important to get some well earned time out so you don’t burn out.

If it was me I would say take 2 days rest, I’ve learned from it where I think I can do 6 days, but really, with work, life and training, its more sensible to have 2 full days rest.  You could get around this by fitting in a morning workout and an evening workout in one day if you really wanted to.

I’d take Wednesday as a rest day if I were you and enjoy the time off (family, friends, blog, kite flying other stuff). Wednesday is also a good day to rest as it will be after your hard speedwork session.  You could perhaps consider rest on Friday after your own speedwork too.  I guess there would be room for an easy run one day (on the circuits days perhaps), but I’d be keen to keep two full days of rest.

Revised Weekly Training

Mon – Circuits
Tues – Club Run (hard speedwork)
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Speedwork
Fri – Circuits
Sat – Medium / Long run / Tempo
Sun – Rest

Speedwork Run Workouts

Speedwork sessions
Here are the speed sessions I’d suggest:

1. 1:1 x 10
10-12 min warm up
1 min fast as you can
1 min recovery
x 10
10-12 min cool down

2. 3:3 x 3
11 min warm up
3 mins fast as you can
3 mins recovery
X 3
11 min cool down

3. 90:90 x 6
11 min warm up
90 secs fast as you can
90 secs recovery
X 6
11 min warm up

4. 5:3 x 3
10 mins warm up
5 mins fast as you can
3 mins recovery
(3 x 5 mins, 2 x 3 mins recovery)
10 mins cool down

Do the first one one week, then the second the next, third the next, 4th the next.  Then repeat.  Chart the times and distances (in Garmin or on a spreadsheet and make a comparison to see your progress (click the link for mine) ).

Try to keep them all the same time (ie 40 minutes) and see if the distance you run in 40 minutes increases.  That way you are taking pressure off trying to beat a time, but you will naturally run further each 40 minutes speed session you do.

Tempo runs (medium or long runs)
10 min warm up
X mins tempo
10 mins cool down

Hill Reps
Hill reps in the park or somewhere else you know. 30-60 mins.


Another thing is that if that if you want to run faster you might need to be doing your training at the appropriate pace for each different type of session. The pace determined by the marathon time you are trying to achieve.

It makes sense to just bite off small chunks of time. If at 2:43, maybe train and aim for 2:41 and pace everything accordingly. 5K, 10K and halfs along the way can tell you if the new goal is achievable.   I’d use the runners world pace calculator to find out what paces I should be running at.

Running Long

Oh and if you are focusing on running a 10k fast, I’d suggest including longer runs, like 8-12 miles part tempo into your schedule, so that when you do the 10k, the 6.2 miles seems like a scoosh compared to the hard 10 miler you did in training! (Same applies to half marathon, I’d go up to 16-18 miles on my long run for a faster half marathon).

Other links
Here are other links which may help:

Run Workouts
Are you a Positive or Negative person?
Negative Splits 🙂
Are you trying to run faster?

Here are examples of me doing an hour of speedwork at the start of this year:
Wk3 – 7M speedwork
Wk4 – 7.45M speedwork
Wk5 – 8M speedwork
Wk6 – 8.23M speedwork

This entry was posted in Questions, Run, Speedwork and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Q. How to run faster?

  1. Crispin says:

    Some really good info here Lorn, I hope your friend appreciates it and he achieves goals! Crispin

  2. Pingback: How to run and enjoy it! | Lorn Pearson Trains…

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