After my notorious 7+ mile run back in March, I made a hard decision. It is more important to me to work on speed than endurance and distance. Realistically, these things should go hand in hand. For me, for this decision, I have my kids in mind. Right now, I'm fortunate enough that my kids get to stay home and play with (ie get doted on) by my parents anytime I'm out on a run. Considering I'd ideally like to go run 3-6 day a week, I don't like to devote too much time on my runs, taking my time away from my kids. My resolve: if I can't run the distance in an hour or less, than I do not run that distance. (Obviously, this does not include actual races.) It's not worth it for me. I don't want to be complacent in my running, though. I'm not happy with the idea of limiting my miles and my progression as a runner. So what do I do? I train to run faster.
I don't have a coach or running partner to push me consistently (but that would be nice). Instead, I have a 2 part plan of approach. First: interval training. You may remember my Runtastic app I shared with you back in February. I finally figured out how to use some of the more advanced features a couple months back. Hence, the start of intervals for me. I generally like to do the half hour workout (which actually adds up to just over half an hour, if we're being honest).
I've found having that obnoxious, robotic voice saying "Try to speed up" when I think I've hit my wall actually gets me to push myself harder. I focus on form and stride. Hint: Running faster does not just mean moving your feet faster. Lengthening your stride can actually be more effective and efficient. At the end of a long run, when I'm tired and really dragging, I often realize I've basically cut my stride in half. A small adjustment can make a noticeable difference to your speed.
The second part of my pseudo training is running hills. Lucky me, I live on one huge hill, so I have to run up one at some point no matter which direction I choose. However, there is one particularly steep hill just over a mile from my house I try to avoid. That's the one that's really going to improve my speed, strength, and endurance. I generally can only force myself to run so far up it (it is STEEP), then I walk until I get to a point I can run again. As hard as it is to run (or even walk) up, I actually hate running down it more. I'm always afraid I'll lose control, lose my footing, and roll down the whole thing. Working this hill has already made me a better runner, though. I've slowly been able to increase the distance I'm able to run up the hill. It's definitely a case where the saying is true, "It doesn't get easier, you get better."
I still love going on "easy" runs, but it's been rewarding to incorporate these workouts into my routine. What are some things you add to your runs to mix things up? Do you have a running partner? How would I find one that is not my husband for those rare times I actually want someone to run with? Also, any other suggestions to help me run faster?