Runner’s World June 2003
By Jeff Galloway
Speedwork without the Work
You can run faster and easier without standard speed sessions. Here’s
Thanks to microwaves and computers, airplanes and cell phones,
life just keeps getting faster-and sometimes even easier. Too bad
we can’t say the same about our running. Of course, traditional
speed sessions will help you run faster. But running laps around
a track is not the only way to improve your times. If you want to
get faster, or just run easier and stronger, I’ve got three
simple strategies you should try. All are based on the Boy Scout’s
motto: “Be prepared.” The general idea is that the more
you prepare both your body and mind for the demands of running fast,
the faster and easier you’ll be able to run.
1. GO FOR THE GOLD
Sure, only a few of us have a realistic chance of competing for
Olympic gold or breaking a world record, but don’t tell that
to your mind. As far as it’s concerned, the sky’s the
limit. More important, you can harness the tremendous power of your
imagination to help you run faster and easier.
Once a week, during an easy run, let your mind take over. Imagine
you’re running on the heels of Frank Shorter in the Munich
Olympics. Or maybe you’re shoulder –to-shoulder with
Paula Radcliffe and on a world-record pace.
Exercising your imagination while you exercise your body is more
than just great fun. When you visualize yourself performing at a
high level, your body responds in kind. You may not be matching
strides with Khalid Khannouchi, but by visualizing yourself doing
so, your body begins to mimic the action.
Visualization will help you improve your form, sustain an honest
effort, and focus on the task at hand. The end result: When you
actually do find yourself trying to outkick an opponent in the last
100 meters of the local 10-K, your body will be prepared to get
the job done.
2. REHEARSE YOUR RACE
To race faster and stronger you need to rehearse your race mentally
*To prepare your mind: If you live near the race course, do a slow
run over the course once or twice a month. As you run, tell yourself
how confident you feel and devise mental strategies that you’ll
use to overcome any race-day problems. If you don’t live near
the course, you can do the same mental rehearsal by running on terrain
that simulates some of the challenging parts of the race course
and talking yourself through the rough spots.
*To prepare your body: If your race is local, run repeats of the
more challenging segments of the course once a week. If your race
is out of town, run repeats on terrain that simulates the hardest
parts of the course. Start with one or two repeats, and build from
there, depending on how long these segments are. Try to run the
first repeat a little slower than race pace and the last repeat
a little faster than race pace. By practicing the tough sections
over a number of weeks, you’ll gain the muscle strength you
need to execute them with ease during the race itself.
3. BE YOUR OWN COMPETITION
Even if you don’t plan on competing against others, you can
race yourself on a predetermined course to gauge your stamina and
speed. Just run the same course once a month and compare your finishing
times. After 3 months, chart out a new course with different challenges.
For example, switch from a 3-mile test course to a 4-miler.
Another way to race yourself: Run your course for time, then divide
it into segments.
Once a week, run repeats on one segment of the course. After you’ve
run repeats of each of the various sections twice, run the entire
course again and compare your time.
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