Some of you may remember a post I wrote last summer; it was about my disappointing second place “loss” at the annual Futenma Magic 10-Miler race. It was disappointing because I had held the lead for almost the entire race, but ended up losing to a fellow competitor who basically had more stamina and energy. As we turned the corner towards the finish line, I simply didn’t have the power and speed to maintain the lead. As disappointing as that was, I decided to learn from that experience and focus on strength and speed-specific workouts for my next race – which was the Courtney Tengan 10k a few months later.
Determined to do better in the 10k race, I set my focus specifically on strength and speed runs; I delegated Tuesday to speed runs and Thursdays to hill runs. Furthermore, I never strayed from my plan. One of the key factors I believe – maybe even the key – of a successful training plan, is simply being consistent; there’s wisdom in the saying, “practice makes perfect.” I didn’t run a lot during that training period, but I did keep up with my two hard runs a week, as well as a semi-long run on weekends. Here is an example of the types of speed and strength workouts I did:
Hill Workouts for Strength
- 6 x 1 minute uphill (on a moderate incline) at a pace that forced me to reach fatigue by the end of each repeat. I slow-jogged back down and started the next repeat either right away, or after a few more seconds to allow for a proper recovery. I challenged myself each week by either increasing either the intensity, number of repeats, or length of time (for example, 8 x 1 minute, 5 x 90 seconds, 4 to 6 x 2 mins).
Various Intervals for Speed
- I did a variety of interval workouts, ranging from 8 x 400m with 200m recoveries, to 4 x 1000m with 400m recoveries, and always with an easy warm-up and cool-down mile (or two) at the start and end.
- I also did a variety of tempo workouts where I would run, for example, a total of 60 minutes and break it up as follows: 15 mins easy, 3 x 10 mins fast with 5 min recovery pace between each set. Or, a 70 min run with descending intervals: 10 min warm-up, 20 mins/15 mins/10 mins with 5 min recovery pace between each.
- On long run days, I sometimes did progression runs where I broke up the total mileage into thirds and progressively ran each third a little faster. Or, I sometimes picked up the pace significantly over the last half mile/mile; I don’t have a strong finishing kick, so a better strategy for me was to try and improve my speed and stamina over a slightly longer distance, versus trying to sprint the last few hundred meters.
Doing one hill workout and one speed workout once a week, consistently and without slacking on effort and intensity, I was able to do what I set out to do. I not only won the Courtney Tengan 10k race (which has a horrible hill at the end of the first loop and again at the end of the course) and finished several minutes ahead of the second-place female, but guess who that second-place female was? My rival from the Magic 10 mile race!
[For more tips on how to train for increased speed and stamina, read my Futenma Magic 10-Miler post]