Want to Run Faster

Can you suggest a simple speed-boosting session?

Many recreational runners head out on their normal loop at the same speed each time and wonder why their times don’t improve. Several years ago, I read about a training experiment in Denmark. Eight experienced runners continued their normal routine -about 18 miles a week of steady training – while 10 others reduced their weekly training distance by 50 per cent and instead followed a 30-20-10 training pattern.

They jogged for 30 seconds, ran somewhat faster for 20 seconds and sprinted the last 10 seconds of every minute. They repeated this process four more times (five minutes of running), jogged for two minutes of recovery (reaching seven minutes) and completed the whole cycle twice more (a total of 21 minutes of running), three times a week. It may sound complicated, but once you grasp the component parts, almost nothing could be simpler.

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And the results? The Danish scientists tested both groups of runners before and after seven weeks of training. The ‘control’

subjects who continued their normal training ran the same times in the one mile and 5K runs both before and after. The ‘experimental’ group, ran faster by 21 seconds in the one mile and by 48 seconds in the 5K.

Not only that, the new workouts also had a beneficial effect on health markers such as blood pressure and low-density lipoproteins (‘bad’ cholesterol). You couldn’t ask for much more: a workout that makes you both faster and healthier.

I’d recommend trying the 30-20-10 once or twice a week for about a month, then testing yourself with a 5K race. If you like the results, make 30-20-10 workouts a regular part of your training diet. Use it when you want to increase your speed, but don’t do it too often or for too many weeks in a row – less is better.

The special ‘sauce’ in the 30-20-10 workout is the 10 seconds of sprinting at the end of each minute, so don’t be tempted to play with the times. While changing speeds, retain the easy rhythm you felt while jogging for the first 30 seconds, move your legs faster when sprinting for 10 seconds, but keep your face, shoulders and arms as relaxed as possible.

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