I Feel the Need for Speed . . .


New runners often have two concerns:

  • How do I get faster?
  • When will I feel like I’m not dying?

The not dying question is usually answered simply: slow down! Getting faster? That’s more complicated.

Here are a few things you can try. Disclaimer: I am not a running coach, and I am not going into detail here, just letting you know there are options for you, even as a beginner runner.

Strides are pretty simple: somewhere during your run, you take roughly 20-30 seconds and you run almost at a sprint pace. Then you take it easy to recover, and repeat several times. I like to do this after I’ve completed my run, but it can be used as a warmup or even in the middle of the run to pick up the pace a bit, which is why Strides can also be called Pickups.

Run/Walk Intervals
Right now you’re probably spluttering: I want to run — I don’t want to walk! The genius behind using run/walk intervals is that it helps to hold off fatigue. Sure, you’re probably going to get tired at some point, but not as soon as you will if running your entire run.

Run/Walk is great for beginners because it also allows your body to become accustomed to running — you may feel ruining fast is great, but your body needs time to adjust to that pounding.

Check out:

Yes, if you run, you’re a runner. Even if you run/walk. I have run/walk for most of my running.

Fartlek roughly translate as “speed play”. Pick an object and run fast towards it. Then walk or run slower to the next object to recover. Repeat. You can also just run fast for time rather than picking objects to run between. I love to pick a row of trees and run fast to the next tree, walk or run slowly to the next, and so on. Mailboxes and lightposts work well, too.

The difference between Fartleks and Strides is that there is no consistent time you’re running fast in a fartlek– it’s really by feel and totally up to you.


Hill Repeats
I don’t really recommend hill repeats for a brand new runner. Hill repeats can be used in place of speed work, though. I actually enjoy hill repeats; there’s something about “conquering” a hill.

You simply run up a hill at a slightly faster pace, then walk or run slowly back down the hill to recover. Repeat several times. Start with just a few, and build up the repeats over time.

Final Thoughts
New runners really shouldn’t worry about pace. While running may be simple, it’s not easy for many people in the beginning. Even if it feels easy, it takes your body time to adapt to running.

I highly suggest joining a running group to get off on the right foot (although I didn’t when I began running). Better yet consider hiring a running coach! Yes, even new runners can benefit from a coach. Especially new runners!

I stand by saying “new runners shouldn’t worry about pace”, but inevitably, they do. They worry about having no one to run with. They worry about coming in last in a race. Start running worrying more about form and taking care of your body, though, and you just might become a runner for life. — Chocolaterunsjudy

I love to train and keep trying to improve via training, but in the end, pace isn’t what keeps me running. Getting out in nature, getting in touch with my body, jump starting my creativity, and those feel-good endorphins are the things that keep me running.

What would you tell a new runner about speed?

Did you just start to run on your own, or did you use a group or an app? 

What other advice to you have for new runners about getting faster? 


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.


If I could turn back time, take II


Or 7 things I would tell a new runner

It’s a wonderful life, right? But how many of us would change things if we were given the chance?

Which is exactly what today’s  Tuesdays on the Run linkup: asks:

What advice would you give your new runner self?

I love learning about new things, and when I’m interested in something, before I even attempt it, I read up about it. So I knew things like:

  • Get fitted for shoes
  • Don’t wear cotton
  • Wear sunscreeen
  • Run facing traffic

There are other things I wish I’d done, or I learned the hard way.

Join a running group!
There are some really good running groups in my area that are aimed at beginners. I wasn’t aware of them, or I was afraid of being too slow. And I probably would have been, quite frankly. Oh, I don’t mean they wouldn’t allow a slow runner in their group, just that even now, it’s still hard to find people to run my pace.

Thankfully I’ve found a few. They make running feel so much easier!

It’ll be scary, but just do it. If you really hate it, you never have to go back.

Build up a solid base  . . .
. .  . before attempting a half marathon. Oh wait, I did that!

Yeah, I can be both adventurous and cautious. So I took a year to train fro my first 5k, so what? I actually think that’s a good thing.

Even if you like running, even if you no longer feel like your lungs are bursting every time you run, it can take a while for things like your tendons to get used to it. I’ve seen far too many friends injured by trying to run a half too soon. I tell people they should be running for a year before they consider a half.

Of course, I’m not a coach, that’s just my $.02.

Run outside
I wasn’t very heavy when I started to run, but I was self conscious. Most new runners are. It doesn’t matter if we’re thin, fat, fast, slow — we just naturally assume that all those experienced runners are doubled over laughing at our ludicrous efforts.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Other runners want to support you and help you.

So if you ever intend to race, get outside and run on the roads. Or trails, if that’s your thing. The treadmill is just different from running on the road, and it’s important to train on whatever you’ll be racing on.

Even if you never intend to race, try running outside. Spending time outside in sunshine (or blinding snowstorm in April, as I type this) does a body good.

Seek out help if something really hurts
The first time I had IT problems right before a race? If I had my running village in place like I do now, I might have been able to complete that particular half without having to walk the last 3 miles, and avoided being in pain while running for the next several months.

Not to mention missing out on that ice cream sundae because it was too painful to walk.

Things will aches sometimes, bu they shouldn’t hurt, and you’ll often know if something aches for too long.

You don’t need food before/after every run
I just totally glommed onto the whole “you need to fuel your runs” thing when training for my first half marathon.

You know what? If you’ve just had a meal a few hours before, you don’t need a snack before a 2-4 mile run. And you don’t need gels for a 2-4 mile run either! I’m not saying I did that, and I’m not saying I didn’t . . .

Yes, I gained weight training for my first half. Eventually I figured it out (mostly). It’s tricky — you do need to fuel your runs, but extra calories just turn into jiggly bits.

Slow down
Most new runners hate it because they simply run too fast. Some people are naturally fast, but a lot of us have to work on getting faster.

If you’re gasping for air and you’re hating every minute of your run — just try to slow down. You can even walk a little. Speed will come, but nothing will come if you quit before you even really get started because it’s “just too hard”.

Try a race
I swore I wasn’t going to race. Then I figured I’d do one 5k just to see what it felt like — and, by the way, I can’t say as I felt like it dramatically changed my life — and yet it did. I just didn’t feel much different crossing the finish line that first time. I wasn’t really hooked.

But you never know until you try, right? And somewhere along the way, I did become hooked, and a dream to run a half in every state was born.

I wrote about if I could turn back time, in a entirely different way, not long ago in a Thinking Out Loud postl

What is the most important thing you would tell your new runner self?
Tuesdays on the Run

I’m linking up today with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.