I've been running for about 2 1/2 years, and I can't help but notice that my race times match my normal workout times. I run a couple of 5k's a year, and I feel like when I race I am pushing myself as hard as I can. When I just go out for regular runs, I run the same pace, and feel pretty good. I try to run slower, but I can't seem to. So, am I running too fast during regular runs? Should I push myself during races more? I do incorporate 1 speed workout a week (either hills or pickups). I'm not really interested in being fast, but I feel like there should be a difference in my times. Help? Thanks! (btw, I run about 10:15 to 10:30 mm) I also run only on trails.
When you do your speed workouts, what kind of intervals are you doing?
I suggest finding a high school track or use a treadmill to do your speed training. A 10:00 mile is 2:30 per quarter mile. Therefore, your speed workouts should have periods much faster than that. You want to learn to push yourself faster over a short distance (say 1/8 to 1/4 mile). So, if your goal is to eventually run an 8-min mile, you need to work up to a 2:00 1/4-mile pace.
Here's a suggested track workout:
Warmup for 10 minutes at an easy pace (probably 3 laps), then rest for a minute.
Run one lap (1/4 mile) at 2:20 or faster
Jog one lap at 3:00 or so for recovery
Run one lap fast again, trying to stay at or better than the first lap
Repeat 4-8 more times
Cooldown for 5-10 minutes.
When you are done, you will have run about 3-3.5 miles, and your overall time will be really slow. But mixed in there, you will have some really fast laps. In two weeks, do the same workout, but increase your speed on the fast laps. You may have to shorten your fast laps to 1/2 or 3/4 of a lap, or you may find 1 lap too easy, in which case you can run 2 laps at your fast pace.
In a month or so you should see a significant difference in your mile times.
How long are your runs during the week? For 5Ks, your daily runs should be 4 or 5 miles with a weekly long run of 7 or 8 miles. Are you running on trails, as in roots, ruts and rocks? If so you may want to get on a paved trail or road at least once a week. The other question of course, is whether the trail distances are accurate. Are you sure you're running as fast as you think you are on the trails?
Thank you both for the advice. I will certainly try the track - there's one at the high school where I teach that I can use. Len, a few of the trails I run have been accurately measured (state parks, xc routes) and the others I estimate distance based on my times on other trails. I know I run more slowly when the trails are snowy!
"I know I run more slowly when the trails are snowy!"
SNOWY!?! I'm sorry, my advice probably won't help you much. I'm in Texas, and the temp right now is about 72°. If the weather were any nicer, it'd be raining donuts.
There are some great workouts online that will help you with your speed. They all have the same basic principle: Short distance, faster speed, multiple reps, and rest between reps. I now understand why the coaches always made us do those stupid drills in High School. I have another idea for you: On one of your trail courses, find a good hill that is straight for 200-400 yards. Teach your body what its like to go fast by going as fast as you can DOWN the hill, then walk or jog back up it. Do that 4-8 times. You can also improve your endurance on another day by running as fast as you can UP the hill, and jog/walk down it. Its the repetitive run/rest/run intervals that increase your speed.
Yeah, donuts - we got another 3 inches overnight! I do run reps like those, but I think the main problem is running too hard on my regular runs. I'm not getting more mileage because I'm not slowing down. One of my goals is to lengthen my long run from about 4.5 to 6, so I definitely need to ease up. Thanks for the input and try not to enjoy your weather too much!