Run faster in 30 days

  • Overview
  • Training plan
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About this challenge

This challenge will take an already experienced beginner runner to a more confident intermediate runner. This 30 day challenge will develop running fitness resulting in the ability to run faster and ultimately improve race and event times.

beginner Training Plan

Entry requirements: beginner

None

Start date:
Anytime
Expected finish time:
Anytime
Duration:
5 weeks
Week 1
Jump to:
Monday
Training

Day 1 - Easy run

 

Run for 25 - 40 minutes at an easy pace

Easy running should form the mainstay of your mileage as many of the fundamental physiological adaptations that are needed to make you more efficient at using oxygen are stimulated at this pace.

Tuesday
Training

Day 2 - Progression run

 

Run for 25 - 45 minutes. Start at a slow and easy pace and gradually build the pace throughout the run so that you finish strongly but not eyeballs out

Progression runs are a great way to boost your fitness without any lasting fatigue. These acceleration runs allow your body the chance to warm up, help to develop your perception of pace and train you to maintain speed as you start to fatigue.

 

Wednesday
Task

Day 3 – Rest day

 

The different types of running speeds

 

Many runners fall into the trap of only ever training at one pace. Not only does this become incredibly tedious, but your body starts to become efficient at working at this speed and therefore future gains in fitness are hard to achieve. To get the most out of your running, you should regularly vary your pace, depending on the aim or purpose of the run. Check out this running speed jargon buster:

Easy running

 

This pace should be slow and feel easy so that you can very happily hold a conversation. If you can’t, you are running too fast!


Tempo

 

A tempo effort shouldn’t be eyeballs out but rather at a 'comfortably hard' pace. The best way to determine your pace for a tempo run is by feel. Try the talking test-you should be able to say three to four word sentences such as 'I feel great'.

 

Interval pace

 

The actual pace of your intervals will of course depend on the volume of the session, the length of the intervals, your fitness level and the terrain. However, it is the effort that is key. There is a time and a place to run hard and it is during your speed work sessions. During these sessions you should be working at an effort where it is not possible to hold a conversation, perhaps you can squeeze one or two word sentences out but no more!                                                                                 

Thursday
Training

Day 4 - Hill work

 

10 minutes warm up (easy running)

 

8 x 60 second hills, jog back recovery

 

10 minutes cool down (easy running)

Hill reps are great for building leg strength and they can also improve your running economy. The beauty of hill workouts is that you can choose the gradient, the distance covered in each rep and the total number of reps, depending on your goals.

Friday
Training

Day 5 - Easy run

 

Run for 25 - 30 minutes at an easy pace

The main aim of today’s run is recovery. After working hard on the hills yesterday you may feel a little muscle soreness. This is common and a slow and easy run will help to promote recovery by flushing out any waste products from your muscles and improving blood flow.

Saturday
Task

Day 6 - Rest day

 

Hill work sessions

 

Hills are a great way to develop your leg strength and speed and can be used all year round. Try the following suggested workouts:

- Power hill sprints

 

Short hill sprints are a fantastic way to increase the number of fast twitch muscle fibres that you can recruit. By simply recruiting more muscle fibres you will be able to run at a faster pace without tiring. This workout is a great bolt-on at the end of an easy run.  Focus on maintaining good form, driving your arms and lifting your knees. If you’re looking to develop strength then opt for a steeper hill. If it’s speed you’re aiming for then go for hill with a gradient that’s less severe.

 

6 - 8 x 10 second hill sprints with a slow walk back recovery

 

- Speed endurance hills

 

If you’re looking at more speed endurance then reps over a longer distance or time are best. Try 60 - 90 second reps with a jog back recovery.

 

You could start with 8 - 10 x 60 seconds and build from there

Sunday
Training

Day 7 - Easy run

 

Run for 30-45 minutes at an easy pace

 

Finish with 6 x 75-100m ‘strides’

If you want to become a faster runner then it’s important to work on your leg cadence and running form. ‘Strides’ are a great way to do this without having to hammer yourself with lots of speed work. Gently accelerate until you are running close to your maximum speed, without actually sprinting. Focus on staying relaxed with good technique.

Monday
Training

Day 8 - Long run

 

Run for 50 - 90 minutes at an easy pace

The length of your long run should be determined by your experience, your current fitness and your race goals. Long runs are key to runners of all abilities as they help to boost aerobic endurance by increasing your number of mitochondria and capillaries and improving your body’s ability to store glycogen (carbohydrate) and to burn fat for fuel.
 

Tuesday
Task

Day 9 - Rest day

 

The importance of rest and recovery

Although it may seem counterintuitive, gains in fitness actually happen when you rest, not while you’re training. Your body needs to recover in order to absorb the work that you have done and to allow the physiological adaptations to a training stimulus to take place.

 

Training causes micro-damage to your body’s tissues and without adequate rest and recovery between training sessions the body begins to break down. By scheduling regular rest or easy days into your training schedule you reduce the risk of suffering from overuse injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures.

Wednesday
Training

Day 10 - Easy run

 

Run for 30 - 45 minutes at an easy pace

 

Finish with 5 - 10 minutes of stretching

After running your muscle fibres will remain short and tight if the muscle is not stretched back to its normal length. Over time this leads to shorter, tighter muscles that are more prone to tearing. For runners the main muscle groups to focus on are the calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes and lower back. You should hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and never stretch to the point of extreme discomfort.

Thursday
Training

Day 11 - Tempo run

 

10 minutes easy running

 

20 minutes at tempo effort

 

10 minutes easy running

Tempo runs are a fantastic way to practice some sustained faster running. These runs should be run at what physiologists term 'lactate threshold', that is a pace that is just below the point at which lactate begins to accumulate more rapidly in your blood. This improves your body's ability to buffer the lactate and therefore delays fatigue, which in essence enables you to run at a faster pace for longer.

Friday
Task

Day 12 - Rest day

 

Why is core stability important for runners?

By simply incorporating some core training into your programme you could actually become faster and stronger without doing any additional running! Core training develops strengths and stability in the muscles that lie deep in the abdomen and connect to the spine, pelvic girdle and shoulders. This enables you to better control whole body movement as you run and leads to improved posture, form and efficiency.

Saturday
Training

Day 13 - Easy run

 

Run for 35 - 50 minutes at an easy pace

Base miles are important because they boost aerobic conditioning by developing slow twitch muscle fibres, increasing blood volume and glycogen storage and enhancing the body’s ability to burn fat. If you are able to build a strong endurance base then you are effectively creating a solid and stable platform on which to build speed.

Sunday
Training

Day 14 - Speed work

 

10 minutes warm up (easy running)

 

8 x 2 minutes fast / 2 minutes slow jog recovery

 

10 minutes warm down (easy running)

In order to run faster, you need to prepare your body's physiology to run at a higher intensity than it might be used to. This means doing some training at, and slightly faster than your target race pace.

Monday
Task

Day 15 - Rest day

 

Speed work sessions

 

To become a faster runner you need to work on your speed endurance and interval training is a great way to do this. Check out these suggested sessions that will help you to achieve a swifter stride:

3 minute intervals

 

Three minute intervals are a staple in many runners’ training programmes as are long enough to gain the physiological adaptations from running at a higher intensity, but not so long that you cannot maintain the pace. Start with 4 - 5 x 3 minutes with a 90 second jog recovery at your 10 k race pace. You can gradually build up the number of intervals as you get fitter.

 

Split kilometres

 

Split kilometre efforts are a great way of maintaining the quality of your speed work without letting the pace start to slip. This session can be done on the track if you are working to distance or alternatively can be done to the equivalent time on the grass or road. Aim to run at your target 5 k pace.

 

5 x (600 m, 60 - 90 seconds recovery, 400 m) 3 minutes recovery between each set

 

Pyramid intervals

 

Pyramid intervals are a great way of incorporating a mix of paces into your speed work, which not only adds variety but also provides a very effective training stimulus. You can of course add volume to the pyramid and adjust the recovery times as you become fitter and more confident.

 

To start with try 1 min, 2 mins, 3 mins, 4 mins, 3 mins, 2 mins, 1 mins with 1-2 minutes recovery between each effort.

 

If you can, aim to run the shorter efforts a little faster than the slightly longer efforts

Tuesday
Training

Day 16 - Easy run

 

Run for 35 - 50 minutes at an easy pace

Running miles at an easier pace actually strengthens your connective tissue so you’ll be stronger and more injury resistant when it’s time to turn up the heat during speed work sessions.

Wednesday
Training

Day 17 - Long run

 

Run for 50 - 90 minutes at an easy pace

Running long also has psychological benefits. Spending time on your feet can be a great confidence booster so you know that on race day you can go the distance.

 

Thursday
Task

Day 18 - Rest day

 

Key exercises to develop running strength

 

As you start to up your mileage you need to ensure that your body is strong enough to cope with the increased load. A small amount of strength and conditioning work can go a long way; it can help to prevent injuries and can also improve running form and efficiency.

 

Try tackling these running specific exercises 2-3 times a week:

Calf raises

 

Stand on a step with your heels hanging over the edge. Raise up onto your tip toes and then concentrate on lowering your heels slowly back to the starting position. Once you have mastered lowering on both legs you can progress to single leg. Aim to build up to three sets of fifteen reps.

 

Walking lunges

 

Keeping your head and chest up, switch on your core muscles and take a wide step. Drop your back knee towards the floor. Be sure that your knee and ankle on your forward leg remain in alignment. Using your glutes, drive your hips through and take the next forward step. If you want to challenge your core stability and strength further, you can perform this exercise whilst holding a medicine ball above your head.

 

Runner touch

 

Start in a textbook running position, with one knee held high at 90 degrees to your torso. Balancing on one leg, hinge at the hip to touch the toe with the opposite hand. Make sure that the standing leg stays stable and prevent the knee from collapsing in to the midline. To do this you will need to switch your glutes on. Return to the running position without losing your balance.

 

Step up drives

 

Stand facing an exercise bench or step (one that is around 30-40cm high is probably best). Step onto the bench with your left foot. Using your left leg to assist you, drive your right leg off the floor and drive the knee high, so that you assume an exaggerated running position on top of the step. Return to the starting position and repeat for up to 10 repetitions on both legs.

Friday
Training

Day 19 - Easy run

 

Run for 35 - 50 minutes at an easy pace

Whether you’re an elite athlete or a casual competitor, a training diary is a fantastic tool for many reasons. Not only does it serve as a great source of motivation when looking back at all the workouts that you’ve logged, it also enables you to objectively analyse why you are running well or maybe not so well. After each run record the distance and/or time completed, how you felt, plus any other relevant details such as the terrain, route and weather.

Saturday
Task

Day 20 - Hill work

 

10 minutes warm up (easy running)

 

3 x 5 minutes continuous hills with 2 minutes recovery between each block. Aim to run up and down the hill at tempo effort

 

10 minutes cool down (easy running)

It is important to focus on maintaining good technique when running uphill.  The most common error is leaning forward, which is counterproductive to maintaining speed. Looking ahead and not down will help you retain a more upright posture. Let your stride shorten and your knees lift naturally. Drive your arms to counterbalance your increased knee lift, however try to keep your shoulders and arms relaxed.
 

Sunday
Task

Day 21 - Rest day

 

Cross training suggestions

 

By regularly replacing a run with a cross training workout you can reduce the risk of sustaining an overuse injury and strengthen alternative muscle groups that are not predominantly used when running, all whilst boosting your aerobic fitness. There are many forms of low-impact cross training that make great alternative choices for runners such as cycling, deep water running, swimming and the elliptical machine.

 

Here are some tried and tested cross training methods that you can use to replace a run:

Cycling

 

Cycling can be a fantastic way to supplement your running as it builds leg strength and boosts aerobic fitness without impact.

 

For harder efforts the static bike is generally a safer option as you don’t have to worry about the impact of the weather or the traffic. Aim to work at a resistance where you can maintain an RPM of around 90-100 as this most closely reflects running cadence.

 

Cross trainer or elliptical machine

 

The cross trainer or elliptical machine can provide a great low-impact workout that will elevate your heart rate to give a good aerobic training effect.

 

Aqua jogging (deep water running)

 

Aqua jogging is arguably the best form of cross training for runners as it involves very similar neuromuscular patterns to running. If you’re new to aqua jogging you may find it easier to use a floatation belt which will help to keep you buoyant in the water.

Monday
Training

Day 22 - Easy run

 

Run for 35 - 50 minutes at an easy pace

Post-run refuelling is crucial if you want to enhance recovery, particularly as you plan on running again tomorrow. The ideal post-run snack should contain a combo of fast release carbohydrate and easily digestible protein in a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Toast with peanut butter, Greek yogurt with fruit or chocolate milk for example make excellent snacks for fast re-fuelling.

Tuesday
Training

Day 23 - Speed work

 

10 minutes warm up (easy running)

 

5 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute efforts with a 2 minute jog recovery

 

10 minutes cool down (easy running)

Many runners assume that speed work has to be carried out on a track. However, this certainly isn’t the case, particularly if you plan to race on the roads. Quiet roads, trails or grass that is good underfoot also make great surfaces for speed work sessions.

Wednesday
Task

Day 24 - Rest day

 

Mastering your mental battles

 

From novice to elite, we’ve all had those inner battles with that little voice in our heads that hijacks our minds with negative thoughts. More often than not, your mind is your biggest opponent when it comes to running. Here are some top tips for mastering your mental battles.

Break down the distance

 

If you find a particular run or session daunting then breaking it down into manageable chunks of distance or time can be a very useful psychological strategy. Only allow yourself to think about one segment at a time.

 

Use positive self-talk

 

Positive self-talk can be a powerful psychological tool in helping to banish those negative thoughts. This involves replacing any negative statements with positive ones. For example, ‘I can do this’. You can also develop a positive mantra that you repeat to yourself such as ‘relax’ or ‘strong’. Find what works for you.

 

Find a distraction

 

Often as you start to fatigue, that little voice in your head will want to hijack your mind with negative thoughts. Find a distraction to occupy your mind and to keep that irrational voice at bay. Run with friends, listen to music, focus on an aspect of your technique or even your breathing rate when things get tough.

Thursday
Training

Day 25 - Easy run

 

Run for 35 - 50 minutes at an easy pace

When you are training at any level, sleep is a crucial recovery tool. Your body uses this natural recovery mechanism to release Human Growth Hormone, which enables damaged muscle tissue to recover and regenerate. If your lifestyle allows, try to ensure you are getting 8 hours of sleep a night.

Friday
Training

Day 26 - Long run

 

Run for 50 - 90 minutes at an easy pace

For longer runs it is best to consume a carbohydrate based meal or snack beforehand in order to top up your glycogen stores and increase carbohydrate availability. Cereal and/or toast, baked potato, bagels, rice cakes and bananas are just some examples of good pre-run fuel. The big no nos are generally foods that are very high in fibre or fat and spicy foods as these can cause abdominal discomfort.

Saturday
Task

Day 27 - Rest

 

How to choose a race with the best PB potential

If you’re serious about racing faster and scoring some personal bests then you need to think carefully about your choice of event. When selecting a race you might want to consider the profile of the course, as flatter courses tend to be faster than undulating ones (unless they are exposed to the elements),  and whether you’re likely to have the company of other runners who are within your target time range.

Sunday
Training

Day 28 - Easy run

 

Run for 30 - 50 minutes at an easy pace

If you find that easy running is becoming boring then engage your brain. Why not try running with a friend, listening to music or a podcast or simply noticing new details along old routes.

Monday
Training

Day 29 - Progression run

 

30 minute continuous run broken down into 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes steady pace, 10 minutes at tempo pace.

 

10 minutes cool down (easy running)

Not only do progression runs have a host of physical benefits, they are a fantastic way to practise mental patience. Many runners struggle to suppress the urge to run hard from the start, however, progressive runs teach you to the discipline required for good pace judgement, particularly for the longer distances.

Tuesday
Task

Day 30 - Rest

 

Congratulations - you’ve made it through the 30 days and you should feel you are a stronger and more confident runner. We’ve chosen race tactics as your final focus, after all why put all those training hours to waste due to a race mistake.

Race day tactics

 

Tactical errors are probably one of the biggest causes of post-race frustration among runners. Make sure you’re a runner who doesn’t have those regrets by considering your race strategy.
 

Pace judgement

 

The smartest runners are those who spread their effort over the duration of the race by running even or negative splits (where the second half of the race is run faster than the first).

 

Take the racing line

 

Certified road race courses are measured using the shortest route available and therefore running down the middle of the road isn’t necessarily the shortest route. Focus on taking the racing line, particularly if the road bends.

 

Time your finish

 

If you feel that you are able to make a final surge to the finish line then be sure to time it carefully. Many races have countdown distance markers but you may want to make a mental note of the final stretch so that you don’t start your final surge too early.

Week 1
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