Maybe you have just finished your very first 5k race and are ready for more. Or perhaps you have been running for years, and are finally ready to enter your first race. There are many methods used to achieve the goal of running faster, but what they all come down to is this: You must train your body to oxygenate the muscles more efficiently while running at a faster pace.
Oftentimes I recommend some variety
in your training, because it enables the the body to adapt and grow
stronger in response to new challenges. But now, I will change gears
a bit and recommend repetition!
Using Balanced IntervalsIn order to train the body to race at your desired pace, your goal is to be training at the same pace you wish to be racing. But since you can't train at the new race pace for the entire workout, you need to break up your workout into intervals, with rest periods in between.
Let's say that your workout for today calls for a 30 minute run. You can try using one-minute interval training. This is where you run for one minute at your desired race pace, then take a recovery minute in between. Run as slowly as you need to during the recovery minute, but hold your pace interval minute steady. At first, your recovery minutes will be run fairly slowly, but gradually you can pick up the pace of your recovery minutes as you body adapts to the new workout. At the end of the 30-minute workout, you know that you have run fifteen minutes total at your desired pace.
Using Staggered IntervalsAnother one of my favorite tips for running faster is to use staggered intervals. Keep your race pace intervals constant at one minute, but simply shorten the rest period in between. Start by running at race pace for a minute, then a slow recovery pace for a minute. Then the following week, try shortening the recovery period to 45 seconds, but hold the pace minute steady. Eventually you will be able to reduce your recovery period down to zero.
The key to staggered intervals is keeping your race pace interval constant, in this case, one minute. That way, you will know exactly how much total time you have been running at race pace, simply by adding up the number of intervals.