Q: Beginners: Further or Faster?

Here’s a question from a reader who’s just started running a few months ago…  (his aim in starting running was to mix things up a bit and run a 10k – and perhaps a marathon once, if he liked running.  Now he’s got to run 10k comfortably, he’s not sure if he should increase his speed, or increase his distance).

Long_Distance_RunningQ: Is it better to increase the distance / time you run, or try and go faster?

A: My Answer:

It depends what your goal in running is:

  1. Running faster (beating your PBs), or
  2. Running further (aiming to increase to half marathon or marathon distances)

RUNNING FASTER

If you’ve just started running and have built up to running 10k comfortably, it’s a good next step to aim to run it faster.  As you progress with your running and increase your cardio work, you will become fitter and you should automatically become faster. 

If speed or times are important to you, you should do 3-4 runs a week:

1-2 easy runs (30 mins each)
1 long (twice the distance of your easy run) (60 mins)
1 speed work / tempo / hill work run. (35 – 45 mins including warm up/cool down)

runThe idea of the speed work / tempo / hill work runs is that you push yourself hard for short periods of time, so that when you run your race distance or time trial (5k or 10k), your body will be used to working hard and should make it easier for you to run faster.

You’ll get a lot of satisfaction from ever improving your PBs and you’ll get more comfortable as a running.

See here for more about speedwork and how to run faster, specifically this one: Q: How to run faster?

RUNNING FURTHER

run or not to runIf you are comfortable with running and you want to aim to do further distances, it’s a good idea to build your long runs until you achieve your distance goal.  With the right progressive training plan, 10k, Half Marathon or Marathon are all achievable goals if you have a good level of fitness.

Running further also makes running distances you’re used to now, seem easier… for example, if your longest run just now is 6 or 7 miles, and you want to improve your times for your 10k (6.2 miles)… if you run 10 miles or half marathons, 6.2 miles suddenly becomes a lot shorter and different.  The same applies for if you regularly run 10ks and then go to run or race a 5k.

longmayyourun

Here’s how I would progress to run further if 10k was my usual long run distance:

3 runs a week… 1-2 easy, 1 long (see below for distance / time), 1 speedwork or easy run.
3 weeks progressing the long run distance /  time, 1 week recovery (over 16 weeks)

The training plan below is a 15 week plan showing the long run distances for each week (easy runs should be around half the distance of the long runs and speedwork and time trials can be optional).

DATE

WK

KM MILES MINS

17-Jun

Wk1

11.5

7

60

24-Jun

Wk2

13.0

8

69

01-Jul

Wk3

14.5

9

78

08-Jul

Wk4

11.5

7

60

15-Jul

Wk5

13.0

8

69

22-Jul

Wk6

14.5

9

78

29-Jul

Wk7

16.5

10

86

05-Aug

Wk8

13.0

8

69

12-Aug

Wk9

14.5

9

78

19-Aug

Wk10

16.5

10

86

26-Aug

Wk11

18.0

11

95

02-Sep

Wk12

14.5

9

78

09-Sep

Wk13

16.5

10

86

16-Sep

Wk14

19.5

12

103

23-Sep

Wk15

21.5

13.1

113

30-Sep

Wk16

10.0

6.2

52

 When running long, it’s important to remember that speed is not the focus… it’s more about time on your feet and getting used to running for long periods of time.  Think about the right hydration and fuelling, and just enjoy your time out running.  Run with others to make it more social.

Then once you’ve cracked the half marathon a few times… you can aim, with the right training, time and motivation to train to do a marathon (if you want to). 🙂

For more about running long, go here.

If you have any questions about running… let me know.  🙂

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