Want to improve your running? Junk the junk miles and learn to run smarter!
Hey, friends, I have something new for you today: a guest post! If you have been reading for a while you know that I rarely have guest posts on my blog, and I’m working to change that. Since there are so many great bloggers, athletes, and cooks out there with a greater knowledge base than I do alone, so I want to start having guest posts regularly on The Fit Cookie.
My first guest post is from Nancy, an experienced ultra-runner and VP of Marketing & Communications at Milestone Sports. I asked Nancy to write a blog post for me and asked specifically about how to run faster and improve speed while still training for longer distances.
During my last race I noticed that my speed began to drop even though I had been running more training for the Bighorn 18-mile in June. I wanted to get some advice from an experienced runner who knows a lot more about running than I do!
Today, Nancy is sharing her experience with improving her running and speed in ultra-marathons, plus she sent some Milestone Pods for a giveaway!
Junking the Junk Miles By Nancy L. Rowe
My running life started with a 39 minute 5k and has led to almost breaking 24 hours for 100 miles. In between there was 27 years of training and racing at various levels of commitment. I followed the path of most ultra-marathoners…5k to 10k to marathon, followed by, “if I can do 26.2, then 50k is only 5 more miles!” Eventually, I fell in love with trail running, the venue of most ultra events.
For many years, I cranked out the training miles, and raced ultra distances. I never got injured but never got faster. I followed one rule: get in the miles. I shunned speed work, strength work, cross training and even the treadmill. I did not track my splits on a watch. I was an endurance runner that is what I did. Run long, old school style!
Then, I got older. Instead of holding status quo in race results I began to get slower, even DNF in some events. I started to feel tweaks and twinges in my bones, joints and muscles. Instead of fixing my running, I took a break. I thought that maybe my body just needed a breather. But, without running I felt restless. And I got lazy.
One day, in an attempt to get back into ultra shape, I decided to look for a coach. I am a pleaser at heart and love earning gold stars, so I believed trying to follow a plan perfectly would be the magic ticket. It was! But not in the way I expected.
Soon, my coach sent me training week #1. Here it is, in part:
- Run 1: 1:30:00 flat to rolling run with a negative split
- Run 2: Flat tempo run of 20:00 on a treadmill or track
- Run 3: 50:00 easy hilly run, 175 cadence
- Run 4: 50:00 easy run on any type of course you like, followed by 4 x :15 flat strides
- Run 5: 45:00 slow flat run followed by
- Walk 6: 30:00 uphill walk on treadmill @ 8 – 12%
- Additional: Strength training x2 and drills x3
Track? Strides? Drills? CADENCE?! Whoa.
But my old school mindset of just cranking out the miles no longer worked, so I trusted my coach and earned my gold starts. Star pupil!
And I got faster. Way faster. Within 9 months I set big PRs in all my beloved ultra distances, including 100 miles, and (most importantly!) felt better doing it. No longer did I have to spend half my waking hours running. I ran less (way less!) and got better. Now I actually know my way around fartleks, goblet squats, cadence and stride length. I am a believer that strength and running efficiency matters. I am living proof.
My coach’s auto-signature says: “Train smarter, not harder.” I took the looooong way around, but I finally got there. Make every mile count!
Nancy is currently VP of Marketing & Communications at Milestone Sports, makers of the MilestonePod. Prior to joining Milestone, Nancy served in global marketing roles at PUMA and SRAM and spent over a decade at NIKE. She is veteran ultra-marathoner, having participated in approximately 50 ultra distance races. Her next goal is to break 24 hours in her favorite distance of 100 miles. When not working or running, Nancy loves to spend time with her three beloved dogs and two cats.