I never considered myself a runner, in fact I did not run until I got out of high school. I enjoyed running, but I was too busy playing basketball, baseball, golf, and football as a kid. After high school, I started to run as a way of staying in shape since team sports became more difficult to coordinate. Shortly after I started running, I began to enjoy the "runners high" I had heard others talk about. At first, I doubted this notion of a "runners high", since it always looked like runners are pain when they're running. It is not pain, it is joy; at least for some runners.
It has been nearly 20 years since high school and up until 2 years ago, I realized I was doing it all wrong when it came to running. Nearly every time I went out for a run, I was running the same distances, between 4 and 8 miles and almost always running at the same speed. Even when I trained for my first half marathon I would just go out and focus on miles each week instead of focusing on quality runs. My competitive side kicked in and I decided it was time for me to get faster.
Speed running was the key. I've since learned that speed running is one of the most important pieces to any running program. Speed runs can keep you from getting bored because you can do something different each week. I might run 8 x 400's this week and then do a 3 x 1600 next week. I'm running shorter distances at a time but running them at a speed much faster than when I just go out for a continuous run for distance. Speed runs have many benefits, including a higher calorie burn and improvement in your VO2 max (the amount of oxygen you produce during a workout). The main thing I wanted was to become much faster with my running times. I can thank these runs for improving those times.
If you just enjoy running and would like to connect with other runners then check out Mayo Clinic - DAHLC Run Club on Facebook.
If you would just like to try out one of my favorite speed runs, give this one a try:
1. Start off running at a warm-up pace for 2-4 minutes
2. Run 5 sets of 800 meters (1/2 mile) - aim for running 10 seconds faster than your 5k pace.
3. After each set slow down your speed for 90-120 seconds but keep your legs moving
4. After you finish your last set run at a cool-down pace for 2-4 minutes
Happy Speed Running everyone.