Getting Faster, Going Longer
As you start your training journey it will pay off to focus on speed as much as you do developing endurance. This seems to work well for establishing a faster base speed for the athletes I coach. In the beginning you will make huge gains in both speed and endurance… later you’ll have to choose an area to focus and make smaller gains.
It can help to spend some time running with athletes that are faster than you. Putting a marathoner and a cross country runner together for speed work does incredible things for the marathoner. We all become complacent in our training and need a little time being a little more uncomfortable in order to push our limits.
Early in a traditional base building training program this could be a 10% increase in distance for your Speedwork or Tempo Run in a week. Alternatively you could have a 10-20% increase in your Long Slow Distance run for the week. This works great for the first several weeks but will have to be tempered as time goes on and your mileage increases.
If you’re looking to race a particular race distance, your run training should reflect that distance as a goal. I think trail running is best for training but you should do what works for you. Matt “Bear” Novakovich of the Spartan Pro Team spends much of his winter “run” training on his treadmill at some ungodly incline (like 40%) at around 3.5 MPH. He races crazy fast too!
There is a growing body of evidence that unconventional methods for training can develop great athleticism. Gone are the days where increasing your performance in long races was considered a direct function of your weekly mileage. I think there will always be elite athletes that run 120 to 150 miles or more each week. Many of the most elite athletes in endurance sport are reducing their total mileage and trading it for increased intensity of effort. Speed work, high intensity interval training, and optimizing recovery from maximal efforts has produced world class performances in many sports, including Trail Running, IronMan Triathlons and throughout Obstacle Course Racing.
Depending on the length of the race, the length of time you spend running between obstacles varies. The key to success is minimizing the transition time from obstacle to race pace running without redlining. This means trying to reduce the recovery time you need after an especially taxing obstacle...
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