And Running, Running
June 3, 2009 9:11 PM Subscribe
What can an experienced runner do to improve her speed during the off-season?
posted by pyrom to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been running daily for about five years now, participating in four years of high school cross country and track. To give a brief idea of my experience, I've raced just about every distance available to me below a half-marathon (800m/1600m/3200m/4k/5k/10k/15k) multiple times. I've peaked at about 60 miles per week during training, my longest run being 18 miles. My most recent mile (1600m) PR came in around 5:22, championing the previous year's record of about 5:40.
However, my off-seasons have left me feeling unproductive. With a pessimistic perspective, it seems my only real gain in speed came from a depression-induced loss of around ten pounds this past year. I've attempted to follow some online training plans during the break between cross country and track, and I've tried to create my own. After about a week of enthusiasm, usually they reveal themselves as over-ambitious. Other times, I begin to question my ability to create a workout that's beneficial to my goal, and thus discredit whatever plan I've been following. I feel like I can follow a rigorous schedule- I just need to know that it's actually helping me.
I'm a runner that thrives on distance, as long days (9-15 miles) are the only workouts that leave me feeling tired but stronger later in the week. However, despite improvements in endurance, it seems that it doesn't translate well to shorter, in-season races. It seems like my body isn't well suited for faster races and I tend to do poorly as the distance begins to drop (where I can do a 5:22 mile, I'm quite sure my fastest 400 was around a 65). My top-end speed is something I feel might be key to improving overall. I'm familiar with tempo runs and do them frequently (6:40-7:20 miles for varying distances), and I incorporate occasional hill workouts during the week, but these seem help little in that sense.
I have a good diet, I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables while avoiding anything processed or greasy (no fast food, no soda, little packaged food). I do not have a strength training plan, mostly due to feeling rather lost when designing one (I feel like I can't tell what is superfluous and what will actually benefit me).
At this point I'm not quite sure what to do. I've always been fast in comparison to my team but always below the range where my accomplishments are recognized.
How can I make this off season productive? Runners, what have you found that has made the most difference in your ability? (Articles, workouts, books, rituals welcome)
Thanks much to everyone!