This content has been created in collaboration with New Balance.
Adding speed training into your training plan can feel daunting, but it’s very simple when, like New Balance ambassador Charlie Watson (@therunnerbeans), you know how.
“Often we put so much pressure on ourselves to stick to training plans. Which is why people fall off them – because they’re not flexible enough,” she says.
Training smarter often means training less. The old adage is as true as ever: it’s quality not quantity. “I only run three times a week; I just don’t have time to run more than that,” says Charlie. Here's how to cut down your training time while improving your performance.
Before you speed up, slow down. It’s not the most glamorous or exciting part of training, but warming up is essential. Running coach Tom Derderian suspects a lot of injuries are sustained in the first minute of a session – simply because people don’t give themselves enough time to warm up and activate their muscles.
Charlie agrees. “A good dynamic warm up is crucial, as is a kilometre or mile jog. I do high knees, and bum kicks – and I also try to activate my glutes with straight leg walking and kick backs,” she says.
Outside speed drills
Charlie is a big fan of getting outside. “See how fast you can run for two stints, then three stints – and build up slowly, making sure you schedule in a small amount of recovery time in between each sprint,” she says.
Prioritise the duration of time you are running over the distance you cover; don’t stop if you’ve got a little more in the tank! Try Charlie’s theory with 400m drills, 800m drills, or even 1km, pushing yourself at a pace outside of your comfort zone.
The great thing about hill sprints is they are often short – but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re easy. Quite simply, run up the hill as fast as you can, then jog slowly down it to recover. Repeat as many times as you can.
Descents can be tough on your knees, so if you find a longer and less steep route back down, don’t feel bad – take it!
“Effectively hill sprints have the same benefits as speed work,” says Charlie. “But you need more drive and power to get up the hill while maintaining your pace.” Grimace through it and picture that beautiful view from the top…
“Hills are a mental battle,” says Charlie. If you know you have nailed a hill workout every week for 12 weeks you will be able to take on any surprises come race day.
The time to turn to the treadmill is when you’re stuck for time or it really is simply too miserable to go outside.
On the whole, though, Charlie isn’t a fan: “Running on a treadmill is easier than running outside,” she says. Make sure you don’t do all your training in the gym or you’ll have quite the shock come race day.
To amp up the difficulty for her indoor workouts, Charlie sets the treadmill at a 1% incline and does 800m repeats. For a 10k you can take this down to 400m repeats. Take a short amount of rest after each stint. Then why not throw in the hill sprints after?
Sometimes one of the hardest things about running training is how solitary it is. If the idea of running 400m sprint repeats on your own fills you with dread, do a HIIT class instead.
Treadmill or bike HIIT classes will keep you honest and improve your competitiveness (no one wants to go slower than the very attractive – and very shouty – instructor demands).
New Balance Toughest Opponent is a story about the battles we have within ourselves. The niggling mind games that play out between our ears that make us question whether to run that extra mile, to lift that heavier weight, or to go forward and push harder, faster and stronger than we did the day before. Find out more at: http://www.newbalance.co.uk/ToughestOpponent.
You are your toughest opponent.