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Training for Speed/Endurance

A consistant training program is essential for beginning runners. It usually takes 10 weeks to build up to running for 20-30 minutes non-stop and beginning runners focus on time first and distance later. By time first, you run for a set number of minutes, not worrying about the speed or actual distance being covered. Once you can run 20 minutes non-stop for up to five times a week, you can focus on a 5K or a 10K training program.

Longer or faster, can't do both at the same time.


Most beginning runners need to work on endurance, that is, the ablility to run a longer distance. Here are the simple steps:

1. Slow your mile pace by 30 seconds and increase your usual run distance by only 10%. Run this distance for a week at the slower pace. (3-5 times)

2. If you feel you are comfortable at the new distance, return to your faster mile pace again. Run this way for the next week.

3 - ? Repeat 1. and 2. again, slowing your pace each time for the new distance and then running the new distance at your old pace. This can be repeated until you reach your goal distance (10K).

Thus endurance is improved. Little by little (two weeks at a time) your endurance, the ability to run further will improve.


To increase speed you need to embark on a speed interval training program one to two times a week.

For this you need a heart rate monitor and a method of measuring mile pace. You may also wish to start what I call the Speed Up Plan.

A. Speed Up Plan. (twice a week)

1. Take your present run distance and increase your mile pace (run faster) by 15 seconds. Run this pace for one week or until you feel comfortable with it.

2. Take that run again and further increase your mile pace by another 15 seconds. Run that for the additional week.

3. This can be repeated until you reach your mile pace goal. Or until you body tells you to rest it for a while.

B. Speed Intervals:

1. Here you start with a 15-20 minute warm-up at a pace one minute slower than your race pace. Record your heart rate.

2. Run one mile at a pace 30 seconds faster than your race pace. Record your heart rate.

3. Allow one minute recovery at a pace 30 seconds slower than your race pace. Record your heart rate.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 again.

First week do 2 and 3 twice.

Second week repeat 3 times.

Third week repeat 4 times.

Fourth week repeat 5 times.

5. Do a cooldown for 10 minutes and then stretch.

**Deprogram your heart rate monitor after each session.

Compare the results with your maximum HR (0.9 - 0.95 of that) and note the recovery rate. Yes, the idea here is to push yourself.

Alternate speed days with your usual runs and put a longer run in once a week. Speed usually takes longer than endurance.

For the two training schedules, write out your program, do not try to 'wing it'.

Good Luck and Good Running

Gord - Women in Motion

Women in Motion -Fariyal Samson
Women in Motion June 1.2000