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.


What if you ran like an elite?


Obviously most of us are not going to be paid to run or earn a lot (or any, most likely) money running and racing. I think we could still all learn a lot from how elites run.

If you’ve ever watched an elite runner, you probably marveled at how effortless they make running fast look. A lot of effort goes into being an elite runner, and I think all runners could take a page from the elite runner’s book.

Pick races carefully
Elite runners don’t usually race injured. It happens, like it does to everyone, but they are much more choosy about the races they run. They often will bail on a race with weather that isn’t conducive to their best performance.

Obviously elite runners’ livelihood is on the line — there’s prize money to be won to support their families. Elite runners, can, and do, run in some amazingly bad weather, too. Boston Marathon tales are made from those races!

Because their livelihood is on the line, though, they are more likely to skip the races that don’t play to their strengths.

We may share a birthday, but not much else!

Don’t run #alltheraces
I still remember listening to Meb on a runner panel at my very first half — yes, that Meb (I wish I’d known who he was!). He talked about how elite runners don’t run a marathon every month. Don’t race a marathon every month, anyway, no doubt they’re running marathons as training runs, which is faster than we mere mortal runners can race.

Elite runners know that races are grueling and they need to be trained and recover properly — Deena Kastor even wrote about how she took months off after a marathon. No running at all!

Do all that supportive crap you don’t want to do
They take ice baths, they get massages, they foam roll, they lift weights, they do yoga — and more! They have a whole team taking care of them, of course. It’s their job. They also put in the hard work in every way to make their dreams come to fruition.

Take fueling seriously
You’re probably not going to find elite runners downing some beers the night before a race. Or having poptarts as a pre-race breakfast. They know that if you eat crap, you feel like crap, and even worse — it effects your performance.

Recover like it’s your job
Well, for them it is their job. However, not all elite runners are just runners. Believe it or not, some have families and jobs in addition to running, too. This one also goes back to #dontrunalltheraces — you generally won’t find them running a marathon every week, or month, or even multiple marathons every year. They take time off after a goal race to properly recover; to be able to come back even stronger.

What else do elite runners do that we could lean from?

Which one of these do you think would help you if you started to do it?

How much does hard work vs the right body type and talent come into play to make a runner elite, do you think?


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Pace is of the ego . . .


In my YTT, our teacher shared the following quote:

Range is of the ego, form is of the soul

My take on that is that especially now, in the age of Instagram and Facebook, we’re all after that perfect looking yoga pose. The perfect headstand, handstand. Arm balances, Inversions. You know: those really cool looking poses. Put more simply: it’s a fancy way to say keeping up with the Jonses.

The problem is that those likes and follows feed your ego, not your soul. Instead of thinking about how far you can bend, twist, or fold, you’d be better served thinking about whether or not you can breath in your pose. Without breathing, you die — so why would you want to do something that makes breathing hard — for the likes?

Fairytales and Fitness

Don’t worry, this isn’t a yoga post. I think that quote can be applied to many things. Running, absolutely. Only substitute “pace” for “range”.

Racing allows me to challenge myself — but you have to be careful not to let your ego take over

We all love a good pace
Myself included. I’m not going to win a race, and most likely I’m not going to place in an age group, either. So pace shows me improvement. Or does it?

Sometimes pace shows that you’re improving — other times it just shows you’re pushing yourself. Pushing is good . . . until it’s not. Pushing the pace at the expense of form is never good, although almost everyone’s form deteriorates as they get tired.

You may push a few weeks, a few months, a few years . . . unless you’re also paying attention to form (how you run), and making sure you’re not running faster at the expense of good running form, someday it’s mostly likely going to come back to bite you in the form of an injury.

Where else does ego show up in your running?
There are lots of other ways ego can show up in your running:

  • Running too many days in a row
  • Ignoring rest days
  • Trying to run through an injury
  • Coming back to running too soon after injury/illness
  • Running at the same pace you were pre-injury when you start running again
  • Racing too often
  • Running in bad weather
  • Not willing to take walk breaks when tired because “real runners don’t walk”
  • Racing a distance you know you’re not prepared for

Think about where ego shows up in your running.

Do you think your ego ever caused an injury?

If you ever ran through an injury — how’d that work for you?

Where else does ego show up for you?

Maybe it’s good to be a turtle . . .


. . . when you begin

I can still truthfully call myself a turtle. I am faster, but I am still not fast, and feel no need to change my slogan:

 An older, slower runner with a passion for chocolate and half marathons.

Turtle Power

In the beginning . . .
. . . almost every runner thinks they’re slow. Most are afraid to join groups because they are afraid of being too slow, being last, getting lost. Even fast runners feel this way. Slower runners, though, get it: this fear is legitimate for them.

I once made a friend because I joined a group run and we lost the pack — and just plain got lost. Did I mention it was dark and cold, too? She could have easily kept up with the pack, but I couldn’t. If some kind runners hadn’t come and run us back in we might still be there today.

Eventually, though, most of us either lose our fear of being last or embrace it, if not actually welcome it, if it happens to us. We fall in love with running — could take days, months, or possibly years. But we do. And if running at the back of the pack is our fate, we may or may not accept that it will stay that way, but we accept that that is where we’ll end up.

Watching your fast friends struggle
Because of blogging I’ve somehow ended up with a lot of fast running friends. They don’t think they’re fast, of course, because few runners do, but to me they most definitely are.

I’ve also watched many of them begin to struggle. And most of the ones struggling have been running far longer than I have. The reasons for their struggles vary, but it’s hard for them to see the paces that once seemed so easy now feel so hard . . . or slip away altogether.

I started out late in life, and I started out so slow, and I’ve been lucky to see improvement when it comes to pace. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my own struggles, and it doesn’t mean there won’t be struggles ahead for me, either.

But when you start out slow, it’s “easier” to see improvement. Not easy, of course, you still have to work for it, but there’s a feeling of you have nowhere to go but up (or down, in your times, that is). Since my first half (throwing out the trail half), I have lowered my time by almost 40 minutes.

It didn’t happen immediately (nope, been running halfs for five years), it wasn’t linear, and there was a lot of hard work in there, too.

Turtle Power
Runner friends say all the time that pace is relative, and this is true. Yet they look to their competition, hoping for that age group award. They rejoice when they enter a new age group, because their chances for those age group awards go up. Turtles can only look to themselves, hoping to better themselves.

There can be a lot of power in truly only competing with yourself. Age groups don’t matter, unless maybe it’s a very small race (and even then, I’ve personally never even come close to an age group award). And sometimes there’s also a lot less pressure to perform those paces that are slowly slipping through your fingers.

We turtles work just as hard as the hares. We sweat as much, we’re often pounding the pavement for far longer, and we keep coming back for more despite the lack of awards (but not lack of rewards).

Turtle Power doesn’t mean giving in or giving up
There may be a certain freedom and power in being a turtle, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily doomed to be a turtle forever. Your time as a turtle will make you even more appreciative of improving — anything you have to work for so hard is sweeter.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not my intent to disrespect the hares, either. They work as hard as the turtles do, and it has to be very difficult to accept declining race/pace times. No doubt some day I’ll struggle with that same problem.

I can’t say that I love being a turtle, but the large improvements I’ve seen over the years? Gotta love that.


This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescornerTalk to me:

Did you start out as a turtle? If so, do you still consider yourself a turtle?

How do you keep yourself motivated when you don’t see improvement?

How do you come to terms with declining paces?