Training for distance events.  We’ve been there, and we’ve all talked about it at length.  We plan. We run consistently and we get the distances we need.  We do that one special workout on the side.  We find a partner we know will push us, and we eat right.
And the race times?
How can it be that they are exactly the same?
It’s maddening.  All of the training, perfect scheduling, dedication…. And the times won’t budge.
Those of you who know me know I’ve participated in endurance events for 16 years, timed hundreds hundreds of races, and I surround myself with runners at every turn.  (I’m writing this post from a convention of race directors, in fact.)
So here are a couple of tactics that have helped me drop times:

  1. Just Fartlek. Okay, did you laugh? “Fartlek” is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” One way to get faster is to run faster, but have fun doing it. You can do the uniform speed workouts (only do one session a week), but one of my favorites is just to Fartlek.  After warming up for about 20 mins of running, just pick a spot and run to it-  fast. When you get there, go back to a slow run, recover, and then pick another spot and run to that fast as you can. The idea is just to pick random points like a cyclist going up a hill, a sign, a tree, and run to it. Have fun!
  1. Rest. Wait, what? Yes.. many times if we are doing speed work and all our other workouts, we might be overdoing it.  You get stronger and faster when you allow your body to recover. Going non-stop without any proper rest will cause you to get slower, not faster.
  1. Strength train your legs. That might seem funny, but one way to keep yourself speedy is to be sure you do some light strength training with your legs. Squats with weight or even air squats are great. Keeping your legs strong will help in your quest for speed and also reduce your chances for injury.

Let me know if these work for you, or if you’ve got some other great ways to get the times down.  And even if you aren’t getting faster, go out and enjoy that run.
I’m rooting for you.
Another tactic?
Our friends at CrossFit Vantage have put together a program just for endurance athletes.  (Even a 5k can be an endurance event, by the way.)  What makes this approach stand out is that it isn’t a program you’re going to have to add to your training regimen: it IS a complete training program.  Sounds awesome to me! You can check it out here. (