Runners World Articles: Archives - August 2001
Partner in Speed: Running with a fast crowd will
help you improve your race times
Whoever said "the more, the merrier" could have been
talking about group speed sessions, because this old adage certainly
applies here. Many runners tell me that they simply wouldn't do
speed training if they didn't have a group to support them.
It's surprising how such small training inconsistencies can prevent
you from improving your current running level. Things such as missing
one or two key speed workouts, reducing the quality of your speed
sessions, or ending your speed workouts one or two repetitions short
of your goal for the day.
Group speed sessions will ensure that none of these setbacks happen
to you. The power of the group pulls everyone along with less effort.
So which speed-training group is right for you? Here are some pointers:
Pick a group that's fast... Running with people who are slightly
faster than you can help you advance to their level. Such a group
gives you more motivation to start the workout, more momentum to
continue running at a faster pace, and more support to finish those
last few reps when you're tired.
The psychological benefit of running regularly with faster runners
is also significant. The more you run with them, the more confident
you'll feel that you too can run at their level.
...but not to fast. It won't help you to train at paces
that are significantly faster than you're now running. When training
with a group that's far faster than you, you'll probably be able
to do only part of the workout before you crash and burn. You'll
also increase your injury risk.
Training at a pace that's too fast can also inhibit you from developing
the intuitive ³pace judgment² you'll need to race well. Workouts
that are too fast lead to race starts that are too fast, and both
lead to slower finishing times.
Meet the gang once a week. The most common mistake new speed
groups make is that they try to run fast more than once a week.
If you limit your sessions to once a week, and keep within your
current pace capability, you'll remain motivated and reduce your
aches, pains, and injury risk.
Once you've found the right group, here's how a speed session works:
- After a slow warmup, decide together on the day's workout. You
should specify the number and distance of the repeats, the pace
depending on capabilities, and the designated rest period between
- For example, a 5-K workout for a sub-26-minute goal pace might
be 10 x 400 m
- Choose leaders for specific paces according to the needs of
- Appoint a timer to announce the time as each person finishes.
The timer is usually the fastest runner, since he or she will
be the first to finish.
- End the workout with a cooldown of at least 1 easy mile, then
walk for 5 minutes.
Fun with Friends: Here are three ways to make speed sessions
1. Award a "best pace leader." In most groups,
it's best to have several pace leaders depending on capabilities.
At the end of each workout, give an award to the pacer who stayed
closest to his o her designated pace.
2. Handicap the workout. When a number of people are running
at various paces, start the slowest person first. Then the rest
of the runners should delay their starts for the number of seconds
needed so that everyone will finish at about the same time.
3. Celebrate when it's over. Head to a nearby restaurant
after the workout to replenish your energy reserves, share war stories,
and give awards.
Home | Site
Map | Contact Us
About Jeff | Training
| Resources | Nutrition
| Training Groups
| Retreats | Merchandise
Copyright © 2003, JFG, Inc.
Direct comments and questions to email@example.com