Distance or speed

  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Oct 22, 2010 3:01 AM GMT
    After a long time of not running, I've finally built my endurance up to the point where three different day this week, I managed to run a 5k. Slowly. And no further. I've got a target time I want to get to in March. My question for the moment is:

    A) Do I keep running this distance and just incrementally do it a little faster each time?


    B) Do I first work on building my endurance a little longer than a 5k -- maybe 3.5 or 4 miles -- before I start trying to get the pace faster over that 5k distance?
  • Karnage

    Posts: 704

    Oct 22, 2010 4:23 AM GMT
    I ran cross country for 4 years in HS, and we always ran 5k races. Our practices on the other hand were almost never that short and usually ranged from 5 - 8 miles. Now you won't be able to jump right into that since you're still getting back in the swing of things, but I would recommend working up your endurance before you try to increase your speed.
  • dfrourke

    Posts: 1062

    Oct 22, 2010 4:29 AM GMT
    icon_wink.gifActually, your answer is both to achieve your goal...

    You need to incorporate longer distances to stretch yourself.
    You need to incorporate shorter faster distances for speed.
    You need to incorporate hills for power [if you are running outside].

    It all needs to be there eventually...I find it easier to get my endurance in first and then work on power and speed...but there will be days when I just don't want to be on the treadmill for a 6 mile run...[boring]...so hills or speed it is...

    Just remember to listen to your body so you don't over extend yourself with the gains you are making...I get easily excited when I feel good about a previous run or an awesome time...

    Good luck.

    - David icon_wink.gif
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    Oct 22, 2010 6:50 AM GMT
    Fantastic that you have achieved this. Do both and some strength raining will ehlp you to achieve these new goals.

  • Ironman4U

    Posts: 737

    Oct 22, 2010 12:59 PM GMT
    It's always good to incorporate variety in your running program to improve. So I would recommend to start doing some speed workout once a week. It can be as simple as some 100 yard sprints at the end of a shorter run. I would do six sprints with 2 minute breaks to start. Or just do some 400 yard sprints and build up the distance or quantity over time.

    Hill workouts (sprinting up hills) and repeating is also a great workout to add some kick to your stride. Afterwards, running on a flat service seems like a piece of cake. Before any speed workout though, do some stretching and at least 10 minutes of easy jogging to warm-up your leg muscles.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 24, 2010 4:35 AM GMT
    yeah, go easy on intensity if you're making a come back.

    you want to ward off the spectre of shin splints amongst other problems.

    your question contained the answer in that both approaches will improve you and you should probably incorporate them on various days.
    for intensity i'd go along Ironman4U's suggestion .
    baby stepping into it.

  • tazzari

    Posts: 2879

    Nov 03, 2010 6:52 PM GMT
    Get a copy of Serious Training: http://www.amazon.com/Serious-Training-Endurance-Athletes-2nd/dp/0873226445/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1288810212&sr=8-1 -- It's a well of very good information.

  • OptimusMatt

    Posts: 1124

    Nov 03, 2010 7:22 PM GMT
    dfrouke has a valid point, you do need both, but alternate - 1 week incrementally increase your distance, next week try do to the new distance at the old time, rinse and repeat until you're where you want to be.

    i.e. if it took you 30 minutes to run 5k, and you up it to 6k in 35 minutes the first week, the week after try maintaining the 6k but trim the time down to what it was for the 5k. Once you're able to do that, go back to increasing the distance.
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    Nov 03, 2010 7:42 PM GMT
    I was always told "Train first for distance, then for speed". I've seen intermediate 5k training programs (ie. training for time as opposed to training just to finish) that have you working up your distances anywhere up to 6 miles. Once you are comfortable running further than 3.1 miles, you can start working on speed.

    I managed to get my 5K time from 24:30ish down to 20:08 (not the greatest, but decent) by doing interval training, hill repeats, and some Olympic lifts.
  • mybud

    Posts: 11777

    Nov 03, 2010 7:48 PM GMT
    I run a lot and did so in high school and college...you always build up your endurance first....over time you regulate your speed and make that your next goal to achieve...Example...you run a mile in 6 minutes....to make a newer goal to cut 20 to 30 seconds off of that....etc....Happy trails brah....BUD
  • ja89

    Posts: 789

    Nov 03, 2010 8:01 PM GMT
    There are 3 things you need to do in order for your time to get better.

    1. You will need to lift. For distance runners, they don't need to bodybuild but still need to have some strength. This will give you a bit more strength to power through that last little bit of your race.

    2. Go for speed after you feel comfortable that your endurance is at a high enough level. When I ran for ASU, we would build our endurance before incorporating any heavy power induced sprints. You might have to push your body and see how much further you can go each day you run. Add a minute to the distance and see how much further you go each time.

    3. Yes incorporate some sprints eventually. Start with shorter sprints like 10 x 100 on 1 min. You don't wanna kill yourself on these so even out your sprints to where you can make it through the workout. Another tough workout would be a 600 breakdown where you start with 600 and ladder down to 100 by 100. This was one of my most hated workouts, because the intervals were ridiculous but it does the trick. I have plenty of sprint workouts if you want, whenever you're ready for that kinda training.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 05, 2010 6:01 AM GMT

    Well I am sure you've got tons of advice but I figured I'd put in my 2 cents.

    I've been working on my running for 6 months now and my strategy was pretty much run for 30 minutes at a comfortable speed so you can keep on running without taking a break. I would run 3 times a week on the same speed. The next week I'd increase the speed by 0.1 or 0.2 miles/hour. Slowly but surely, my body would adapt to the new speed very gradually. The key is not to push too hard or you could get hurt or get discouraged. I am pretty happy with my results so far. Generally once a month, I throw in an interval training session for 20-30 minutes.

    Another thing I found useful that people around me who run on treadmills are not doing is bring a water bottle and drink it to prevent your body from overheating.
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    Feb 05, 2011 3:45 AM GMT
    I just wrote a long response but accidently erased it.

    In short this time.. Go to some of the websites that give you the theory and free training schedules and you will see you need all three like the one guy said:

    Long slow distance to build your aerobic base, burn fat, increase endurance and increase your vO2

    Fast intervals to build your aerobic threshhold and tolerance for lactate buildup

    Hills for strength

    A great site is this one below and it has a great calculator against which to measure yourself and predict your abilities.


    I started running 2 years ago at age 52 from almost never running and this year not only will I be running Boston but I hope to do a sub-3 hour marathon before I switch to Ironman competitions. To be clear, when I started I could not run 2 k without stopping. I joined a running store clinic and I credit the group running with my success.

    Have fun!