By Jeff Galloway
Q & A
Q. As a beginning runner, how long can I expect to improve in endurance
A. It’s certainly common for runners to see gains in endurance
for a decade or more - even when they begin their running careers
at age 45 or older. Improvements in pace can also be sustained forup
to 10 years, but these improvements are much more dependent on age,
training strategies, and injury frequency. However, when runners
move from sporadic training to a training program, it’s common
to improve 10-K times by several minutes and marathon times by 20
to 30 minutes. This initial rate of improvement then slows down
considerably as time goes on and you approach your ultimate potential.
The best way to improve endurance is to lengthen your long run.
Slow down your pace to about two minutes-per-mile slower than your
goal pace, and you can increase your endurance by an additional
mile or two per long run, every other weekend.
Regular speedwork is the key to pace improvements. Once a week,
or every other week for marathoners, run some measured segments
20 to 30 seconds-per-mile faster than your goal pace. For 5-K and
10-K runners, start with 400-meter repeats. Half-marathoners should
try 800-meter repeats, while marathoners benefit most from mile
repeats. Walk or jog between each speed segment until your breathing
is back to normal.
THE EXCUSE (AND HOW TO BEAT IT)
I don’t run because it hurts.
There’s a big difference between pain and discomfort. You
should never try to “run through” pain from a muscle,
joint, or other body part, as you risk serious injury when you ignore
such signals. However, discomfort from increased exertion or imperfect
weather conditions can - and often should - be pushed through on
your road to improved fitness.
During your first six months of running, it’s best to minimize
discomfort to ensure that you stick with your new running routine.
Whenever you feel significant stress or strain during or after a
run, slow your pace, as most discomfort is caused by running too
fast for your fitness level. Adding one-minute walk breaks will
also reduce discomfort.
Overly ambitious mileage increase also “hurt.” Initially,
your goal should be to get out for a short jog every other day.
Then, to build endurance, gradually increase the distance (by minutes,
not miles) of just one run per week.
three-day training week NO TIME? NO WORRIES!
This training week offers the perfect mix of conditioning in just
three 30-minute runs. 1) Out and Back. The plan is to run out for
16 minutes, then try to run back in 14 minutes. Jog for the first
five minutes, do a faster jog for five minutes, then run at a hard-effort
pace until you turn around. On the way back, jog for four minutes,
then gradually pick up the pace. 2) Hills. Jog for seven to eight
minutes as a warmup, and same for cooldown. Spend the middle 15
minutes running up and down coasting down a moderate hill. Start
your hill climbs easy, then push up the incline a little faster
until you’re running a hard-effort pace. 3) Chase. Run with
a friend who is slightly faster than you. After a 10-minutes warmup,
pick up the pace as you alternate the lead for two- to three-minute
segments with one-minute jogs between them. Try to stay with your
friend when he or she leads.
(SAY WHAT?) RUNNING JARGON, TRANSLATED
Fartlek Swedish for “speed play,” fartlek training is
an unstructured form of speedwork, where the pace is varied spontaneously
from fast bursts of running to easy jogging. It can improve both
aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
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