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.


5 Things You Tell Newbies . . .


. . .  that are true for experienced runners tackling new distances, too

Have you ever run with new runners? There’s often an energy around them — excitement, anxiety, fear of being last  — and you find yourself assuring them that yes, they can do it, and no, don’t worry about your finish time.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy and sharing five things I have told new runners time and time again . . . and had to be reminded of myself as I tackled a new distance.


Was I way in the back of the pack? Yes. Did I care? No.

Don’t worry about your finish time
I’ve lost count of the number of new runners I’ve told this to. I totally get it: you’re scared of being last. Chances are pretty good you won’t be. But if you are? You know what, you have nowhere to go but up. And it’s not the end of the world, either, it’s much better to finish a race than never start at all, or DNS (Did Not Start) as we experienced runners like to say.

Trust your training
Rachel @ Runningonhappy can confirm that I can obsess a bit about the unknown. Luckily I have her in my corner, though, so I don’t have to stress too much about it.

Big goals seem scary; absolutely. A good coach or training plan will break it down into baby steps. What seems super scary in the beginning will eventually seem doable.

Of course I earned it. Didn’t I?

You still need to watch your nutrition
One of my goals for the 1812 Challenge was to not gain weight. I didn’t gain a lot, but I’m still at a weight that’s not quite comfortable for me. And it’s not just melting off of me now that those really long long runs are done. I’m not quite sure why.

I thought I did a pretty good job watching what I ate. I’m also pretty sure there was just too many treats and desserts for this vertically challenge body, because, you know, I ran 18 miles.

Long story short, “if the oven is hot enough the food will burn” is not true. In other words, unless you’re genetically gifted, you’ll still have to watch what you eat. Better nutrition will also mean better running and recovery.

Training is practicing for race day
When I mentored the challenge group this spring, so many runners started peppering us with questions about how to drink, eat for breakfast, and what to wear on race day as the big day approached.

Your training runs are for figuring all those things out, and that’s why runners love to say nothing new on race day — do what you did during your training. If you just ran, just run. If you used run/walk intervals, use them in your race, too. Eat the same breakfast you did before your training runs. Never forget:

Nothing new on race day!

Don’t worry about what is coming up
If you have an entire training plan laid out for your race, some of those runs are probably going to look scary. 15 miles? Ok, that’s just 2 more than a half. But 17?

That is what training is all about. You will get there. Training prepares you for the big day, baby step by baby step. Just like in a race, don’t think about too far down the road. Run the mile you’re in. If you’ve put in the training, trust it.

What would you tell someone running their first race?

What have you relearned as you’ve tackled new distances?

Which of these are most important to you?

Empower: To give power to someone

Most of my blogger friends are women. I firmly believe that it is better to build someone up than to tear them down. Women can be catty, snarky, body shaming; the list goes on and on.

Yet women can also lift other women up by sharing their knowledge and helping to empower one another, today’s  Wednesday Word.

Recently I was talking with some friends — one online, one in real life — about running. One is definitely a runner, but she was struggling. The other runs occasinally, but wishes she were running more consistently.

Both of my friends were struggling with their running. It felt too  hard and tired them out too much.

I made the same suggestion to both women: try run/walk intervals.

I know one tried it and found it helpful. The other I just talked to and I don’t know if she tried it..

Knowledge is power.
–Francis Bacon

I firmly believe that knowledge, is, indeed, power. I enjoy learning new things — although I don’t think I’d enjoy going back to school at this point — which my mother did, by the way; she graduated from college when I graduated from high school. She hadn’t had the opportunity to go to college as a young woman (another freedom we just assume we have these days — just think how much has changed in a very short time).

We empower other people by sharing our knowledge.

The higher the better. It’s more about an attitude. High heels empower women in a way.
–Christian Louboutin

Ok Christian, I do think your shoes are beautiful, but oddly enough, the more serious I became about running, the less I wear high heels. Yes, they are sexy, and in a way they’re a bit empowering for this petite girl.

High heels are not empowering for runners, though. They leave us open to more injuries and put a lot of tension on the ball of our feet, a place that already gets a lot of pounding through running.

I’m not giving up my high heels totally, but I do find that I wear them less and less.

Finally, of course, learning to run is empowering. It definitely doesn’t feel that way at first. That feeling of freedom on a run, a new PR, tackling a new distance, getting back at it after an injury: every single phase of running ultimately helps us to realize our own strength and abilities; i.e., empowers us.

It’s extremely difficult to convince someone that has never run, or is a new runner, that running will empower you. You’ll just have to trust me on that.

Deb Runs

What fears have you overcome?

What you accomplished despite your fears?