Different elements

NO matter what your goal is in running, at the moment, it is always beneficial to have some speed play in your running sessions.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s a distance goal or a time goal or just keeping on track with running (staying Injury free and topped up!)

Speed play is fun and can be used in a specific way or just as part of your regular routine!


What the heck is that?

Examples of speed play:

  • Speed intervals – alternating your speed for a pre-determined amount of time/distance
  • Fartlek – alternating your speed making it up as you go e.g. “sprint to that tree”
  • Tempo runs – running at your expected race pace
  • Hill runs (YES THIS IS ABOUT SPEED!)
  • Use drills and plyometrics to master skills slowly at first
  • Work on increasing your Vo2 Max

To get faster essentially you MUST preserve energy. This time though, the energy is preserved to provide extra POWER to your muscles rather than stamina (in our previous endurance and distance focus articles)

Once again it all comes back to what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and how well you’re doing it.  Then you need to work on improving it. Slouching as you run – your posture has got to get better! Not activating your glutes – that’s got to change!

First – do you know how you run?

If not – get a gate analysis – and get it done by someone who knows biomechanics like a sports massage therapist or a physiotherapist. Not at a place that sells you shoes. If they’re good practitioner they’ll show you a video of what you’re doing on the treadmill and even slow it down to point out areas you might want/need to work on. For example, if your hip is dropping they should be able to clearly point that out and even explain why that’s happening. If the solution is buying new shoes THEY’RE NOT QUALIFIED ENOUGH!

Ask a friend to video you while you’re running – in normal conditions. We do run differently on a treadmill and when we know someone is looking at you! Ask yourself how you breathe and try listening to your own breaths – did that make it go weird? Or worse have you forgotten how to breathe!! Yeah observation can be a killer! So maybe say to your mate (or pick one that’s a bit slower than you) please run behind me and just video me off and on during our run session and then focus on just running regularly. Afterwards WATCH IT! Yes, we all hate how we look on camera. YES, the camera adds 10lbs! FUCK THAT! This is not UK’s next model it’s “how do I make my running better?” What are your feet doing? What are your legs doing? Are your arms crossing your central line? What’s your posture like? Are you symmetrical? Ask yourself all these things….and what do you notice? Write it down, post what you’ve written in the group and I will respond to each of you individually.

Posture when running think BITCH:

B – Bum activated!

I – Inhale!

T – Tummy slightly pulled in

C – Chest out (nipples pointing ahead like headlamps)

H – Hands – below your heart line and moving forwards and back NOT across your midline


Great if you love the data

Stride Turnover (running cadence)

This is how many steps you take during running (usually tested over 60 secs), improving this may help to improve your speed. There are many factors involved in running, you’ll have heard me talk about how running is essentially hopping thousands and thousands of times. We also need to look at how long you are in the air, how many times your foot hits the ground (remember higher impact equals higher possibility of injury) and how quickly you take your steps. The theory with stride turnover (cadence) is that the quicker your steps, the less impact you’ll have on your joints. This is different to stride length – so just because you might be taking quicker steps doesn’t mean you’re taking smaller or longer ones.

You can find out YOUR OWN current running cadence by running for 1 minute and counting your steps. I’m not saying you necessarily need to actively work on increasing this BUT it is another useful measurement to see how well you’re improving. So, test it now, then test it again in 4 weeks (after you’ve incorporated speed/drills etc into your weekly training programme) and see if it’s gotten faster. It is another way of seeing how efficiently your body is working.


Vo2 Max

This is how much oxygen your body uses during exertion. So, the more oxygen your body can process the fitter (and better runner) you will be. This is how Lance Armstrong and all those other cyclists allegedly enhanced their bodies – by taking drugs that dramatically increased the oxygen in their blood – which supplies the muscles – giving them greater speed, power and endurance.

You can easily test what level your Vo2 Max is currently at (and you can do it during any of your weekly runs) all you need to do is jog 1 mile and note down what your heart rate was at the end AND how long it took you. Put this into my Vo2 Max calculator (with your weight in kgs) and you’ll be given a number – the higher the number – the better your Vo2Max is! You can also see where you rank against the rest of the population.

Try it!