How do you improve your speed?

16 Juli 2020
You develop speed by mastering a proper foundation. If you do not have a proper foundation, work on your endurance first. Speed training is very fun (we think you would agree that overtaking other runners or even cyclists gives you a kick anyway!), but is extra stressful for your body.
How do you improve your speed? - photo 1.1

Two ways to train for speed

Speed training can actually be learnt and done in two ways. It can be done by increasing your perseverance time so that you can maintain for a longer period of time (e.g. for 5 or 10 km races) or by working on your absolute speed, which serves as a nice training form to run shorter distances and which can really challenge you. 

Training for perseverance time    

When training for your perseverance time, you're actually just walking at a pace that you can easily keep up with, but where you need to regulate your breathing properly. The longer it takes, the more tired you get, but it is still possible to keep up your pace for a long time.

You can train this perseverance time by adding long interval blocks to your running schedule. A great guideline is to maintain a core program of 30 min of running. For example, after warming up of 10 minutes, you can run 10 x 3 minutes at a higher pace with a break of 90 seconds of jogging in between. The jogging break should be really easy, but you shouldn't walk. This means that you don't have to run the 3 minutes so fast to the point that you are completely exhausted. You can also trade in the 10 x 3 minutes for more intense work such as 5 x 6 minute or 3 x 10 minute sessions. Take a 2 to 3 minute jog break during these easier sections. Training in this way is also referred to as intermediate training because you alternate between slow endurance and absolute speed training. Always walk another 10 minutes after a workout to cool down.

VO2max training courses

The second way to improve your speed is through VO2max training. This type of training is challenging and is also referred to as the HITT training of running! This training can involve 3 series of 10 x 45 seconds of fast running with breaks of 15 seconds of jogging. It is the pause of 15 seconds which ensures that you complete your VO2max training sessions well. By the end, you will be exhausted and you will hardly be able to catch your breath while your legs will still want to move. Between the sessions, you can take more prolonged breaks to be well rested to start the next sessions. 

The 3 sessions of 45 seconds of fast running with a 15 second jog break can also be exchanged with, for example, 3 sessions of 40 seconds of fast running with a jog break of 20 seconds or 3 series of 30 seconds of fast running with a jog break of 30 seconds. 

Switch it up frequently so that you always give your body a training stimulus. If you train too monotonously, your body will become dull and there will be no more training incentive, which in turn means your progression will become less. An ideal week of 3 training sessions includes a slow endurance run, a training session to improve your endurance and one VO2max HITT training session. 

These running tips & tricks are from top athlete and top coach Gert-Jan Wassink. Gert-Jan possesses years of experience as a top athlete with multiple medals for Dutch Championships and is a 7-time participant in European Championships. In addition, he coaches numerous upcoming athletes, recreational runners and top athletes. Gert-Jan's motto is: train smart and sensible and make every workout count.

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