Some of you may remember a post I wrote last summer; it was about my second place “loss” at the annual Futenma Magic 10-Miler. I had held the lead for almost the entire race, but ended up being passed during the last quarter mile. As the stadium and finish line came into sight, the female competitor immediately behind me dug deep and powered past me; I simply didn’t have the stamina to hold the lead. As disappointing as that was, I decided to learn from that experience and focus specifically on strength and speed workouts for my next race (the Courtney Tengan 10k a few months later).
Determined to redeem myself, I strategically planned my training runs for the next twelve weeks; 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 (athletes in Southern Japan should keep in mind that contending with extreme heat and humidity is something that should be factored in to their personal training plans!!!). I not only won the Courtney Tengan 10k race (which has a “killer” hill at the end of the first and second loops) and finished several minutes ahead of the second-place female, but guess who that second-place female was? My rival from the Magic 10 miler 🙂
[For more tips on how to train for increased speed and stamina, read my Futenma Magic 10-Miler post]