Faster harder training

We look at the golden rules for adding faster harder training to your running week.

Will you benefit from faster harder running?

If you haven’t been running for very long you will make bigger gains by staying aerobic and building the adaptions that Chatty Sparkly running gives you. It is only when you stop improving that you may consider adding faster harder running to your training. Before you do this though you will benefit from three or four weeks of Chatty Sparkly hill training. This special hill training will make your muscles and tendons stronger, ready for the faster harder running sessions that follow. As a general rule, you will need to have been running for at least two years before you will benefit from faster harder running sessions.

Should young athletes do faster harder running?

Young athletes, before they have reached puberty, do not have a sufficiently developed anaerobic system to benefit from faster harder running sessions. You will notice that they cannot get of breath and really young runners will simply run as fast as they can and then stop. They are unable to push their bodies on!

I run two or three times a week. Is faster harder running for me?

You will make more gains by increasing the amount of running you do. Building up your long run to at least 90 minutes will be more beneficial than adding faster harder sessions.

So who would benefit from faster harder training?

Experienced runners who have been running for two years or more and have stopped improving with Chatty Sparkly running alone.

Runners who have completed a lovely long base phase including a 90 minute long run and done the Chatty Sparkly hill phase.

Runners who have gone through puberty.

Why do harder faster training?

If you are ready for it, faster harder running is like the ‘icing on the cake’ and will give you that little bit extra if you are aiming for a race PB.

Typical faster harder sessions

The warm up

As you will be running faster than normal in the session, your warm up needs to prepare your body to run at this pace. Therefore a couple of laps of the track or five minutes on the road won’t be enough. Follow the following guidlines.

Three minutes walking, three minutes Superchatty paced running (slower than your Chatty pace), seven minutes at Chatty pace and another two minutes a bit faster, at your ‘breathy’ pace. We demonstrate the different aerobic paces here.

Now it’s time to get your legs used to running faster with at least four Sparkles. You can add a few dynamic stretches here too.

A typical session for a runner new to faster harder training

Three repetitions of two minutes with three minutes jogging in between each repetition. The repetitions need to be run at your 5km pace. Your breathing will be deep and quick but you will not be gasping for air. Remember it is the pace that you can maintain for a 5km race.

A typical session for an experienced runner

The most an experienced runner would do is six repetitions of three minutes at 5km pace with three minutes recovery jogging in between. However, it is important not to start with this volume. Build up to it. It is better to do less than more. Always stop the session when your form deteriorates. Pushing on to the end of the session if you are tired is counterproductive.

Cool down

You will need at least ten minutes of jogging once you have completed the repetitions to get rid of the acidity that has built up in the body.

Recovery in the days that follow

It will take you a couple of days to recover from a faster harder running session so make sure you are running Chatty in the following days.

How many weeks of faster harder running should you do?

You will notice rapid improvement in your running. After four weeks and a maximum of eight sessions you will have reached a peak and improvement will stop. Begin these sessions eight weeks before your target race then stop. You will then have three weeks to work on your speed. You can do this with time trials and Sparkles before tapering before the big race. We will cover this in our next video.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that because you have improved rapidly with four weeks of faster harder training you need to carry on doing it. It will put your body under too much stress and make you prone to injury or illness for no benefit.

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