This is my new goal for the coming Aussie winter into spring season and I hope I can let you into a little secret.
My last run was:
1km @ 4:01 into an easy 1k @ 6:10 followed by 1km @3:54.
At the top of the 'hill' I had a 300m walk to recover before returning home:
1km @ 3:23 into an easy km @5:25 and powering home for the last 1 km @ 3:34.
How am I running faster?
In my previous post on 'Finding my speed' I told you of of my discussion with Peter, who was running 2:20 marathons in his early 20s. One of his tips for how to run faster was to find a good long, gently descending hill and see how fast you can run down it. Sounds silly, but it is so true. Now to see how to get faster.
Running down hill is how I am running faster. Sure you that know gravity naturally pulls you down the hill, but you have to make the effort to use that hill and lift your tempo and effort levels to actually start running faster. Think about it. It's easy to run down a gentle hill. It takes no effort. Now, go out there and lift your tempo, increase your stride length and start to push your heart rate. You'll soon find that you are running faster than you thought possible.
The key is to finding the right hill. I am lucky that I live by the Lillydale - Warburton rail trail - a 40ish km hard gravel track that follows the old rail line.
To go towards Lillydale I have a great 3.5km section. It starts flat for 300m then has a gradual 3-4% incline for almost 3km before flattening out just at the end. To learn how to run faster I had to run up the hill before I could run down.
Previously I'd been able to hit 3:30, 3:15 and a short blast at 3:00 min/km on the treadmill. Fair enough I had to maintain the speed, but it's not real world now is it?
To run faster you also need to be able to breathe. Again, in my previous speed post I talked about the 3-2 inhale exhale ratio and the 2-1 ratio when you are reaching your limits. Simply learn to control your breathing - that's how to run faster.
Oh, and you also need to drive your legs forward and up, engage your hammies and use them to help drive your speed. That's running coach stuff, but the breathing and hill speed you can do.
So, how am I running faster?
Yesterday I did that 3km out and 3km back run.
Fast km 1: My first km was the flat before graduating to the steepest section of the hill. I quickly fell into the 3-2 breathing and picked up the pace.
My breathing really picked up as I had to push the speed up the hill. At about 600m I made the change into the 2-1 breathing as I really found it difficult. Using this method allowed me to push forward wheras in the past I would have been out of breath and pulled up. At the GPS beep - 4:01min I eased up into a jog.
The easy jog felt ridiculously slow at 6min km time but the recovery is just as, if not more important.
Fast km 2: At the next beep I took off again. I increased the pace and again got into a 3-2 breathing rythm as I climbed the hill. As my cadence picked up and my stride lengthened my breathing quicked and I had to change to 2-1 to maintain my efforts. It would have been easy to stop but to get endurance you have to push through the pain barrier. By the end I was really breathing hard and the 2-1 ratio just kept me going. Fortunately the trail levelled off for the last 200m and the watched beeped at 3:54.
I allowed a 200m walk to the end of the trail and 200m back for recovery before steeling myself and heading off again.
Fast km 3: I very quikly settled into a fast run and glancing at the watch I was doing 20 kmh, or 3:00 pace! Exciting but I had to sustain it for a km. This is where running down hill is how I am running faster. I had to really work hard on my breathing, and the tempo allowed me to breath 3-2, as my legs were turning over quickly. After 500m I felt I was slowing but it was important to hold my form and push forward. I conciously had to drive forward with my knees and run upright with a slight lean but I was able to hold my nerve and the gps beeped at 3:23!
An easy jog followed and I was really thankful for it. My breathing slowed and I felt my legs recover slightly.
Fast km 4: 1km to go! Again I focused on my form, driving the knees up and forward, strong and steady 3-2 breathing as I used the last 400m of the down hill to develop the pace. At 500m it flattened out and I was doing all the work. My 2-1 breathing took over and I could feel the heart thumping. Holding my nerve and breathing strong and as deep as I dared with the 2-1 ratio as I could to match my strides, I pushed hard on the last 200m on a slight incline. Beep beep beep, 3:34!
If you told me a month ago that I could run this fast I would have scoffed at you. No way. Now I know the secret of how to run faster:
3:2 breathing to match each stride, 2:1 when the going gets tough and your legs and cadence is faster.
Use down hills to build your speed - get the feel for going fast and push yourself to maintain the speed. Gravity helps, but if you ease off, you are not running faster, just running at an OK speed with less effort.
Passive recovery is essential! (But my goal is to build in less recovery and more active work).
From here I want to push the length of my fast sections a little longer each time. While I can build speed and power during training and learn to maintain it, when it comes to race day I should be able to drop the pace a fraction to be more comfortable yet still run faster than I was previously running.
Get out there and give it a try. I'd love to hear your feedback on how you improved.
Cheers and get faster!
Run faster with ThisFish and barefootinc.com.au Remember, 10% discount with 'fish 10'