Picking Up (Running) Speed … You Can, Too!

By nature, I’m not a fast runner. I’ve joked many times that I was built for power, not speed. Which is why I was pumped to finish 6.75 miles in an hour this morning. That’s about an 8:52 pace. I remember the days, not so many years ago, when I was thrilled to get down to a 10 minute mile. I guess you could say a lot has changed since then.

It got me thinking about how I got there – and how you can get there, too. The best part? It helps to stave off boredom. Because you know that an iPod and those little televisions can only keep you from thinking about how much longer you have to go for so long.

So, here’s my totally unscientific, but easy to follow, tip for picking up running speed (I do this on the treadmill, because it’s easier to track your pace, but can be done on the track or the road as well): mix up your speed. It works kind of the same way that intervals work – but it’s playing with your speed more so than your heart rate (although depending on how long you spend at any given speed, it can also help you build interval work into your run).

For example, I start out at a 6.2 mph pace. For my first mile, I will add .2 mph ever y minute, until I get up to 7 mph, then drop down to 6.3 mph and build myself back up to 7.1 (this is the first ten minutes of my run). Once I get mile one – usually plus a little – down, I start changing me speed every 30 seconds. Using the same “build then drop down” as the .2 mph increases for my first mile, I will add .3 mph, then .4 mph, and then .5 mph – cycling through much the same way, eventually getting up to 7.5 mph.

I know, it sounds confusing. But it’s really not. To break it down, this is my typical run (you’ll notice each round adds .1 mph onto the stopping point of the previous round):

Round 1/10 minutes: Start 6.2 mph – build to 6.4-6.6-6.8-7.0, down to 6.3 mph, build to 6.5-6.7-6.9-7.1

Round 2/5.5 minutes: Start 6.2 mph – build to 6.5-6.8-7.1, down to 6.3 mph, build to 6.6-6.9-7.2, down to 6.4 mph, build to 6.7-7.0

Round 3/6 minutes: Start 6.2 mph – build to 6.6-7.0, down to 6.4, build to 6.8-7.2, down to 6.3, build to 6.7-7.1, down to 6.5, build to 6.9-7.3

Round 4/7 minutes:  Start 6.2 mph – build to 6.7, 7.2, down to 6.3, build to 6.8-7.2, down to 6.4, build to 6.9-7.3, down to 6.5, build 7.0-7.4, down to 6.6, build to 7.0

Once I’ve made it completely through these builds, it just depends on how much longer I plan on running, and what I’m in the mood for. I’ll mix up any number of these speed increases, sometimes adding a couple of sprints at the end. Trust me, when you’re thinking 30 or 60 seconds versus 30 or 60 minutes, the time flies by a lot quicker – and you’ll find you’ve grown faster before long, too!

On a completely different, separate note … congratulations to the three Clemson players picked up in the second (Andre Branch) and third (Dwayne Allen and Brandon Thompson) rounds of the NFL Draft last night (and they aren’t through Round 4, just yet, but we have added Coty Sensabaugh to the list for a total of 4 so far)! Here’s hoping a few more end up with a new employer today 🙂