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Best Running Tips Newsletter, Issue #020 -- Speed Training and Being Five

March 30, 2010 In this edition of the Best Running Tips Newsletter I want to spend some time talking about speed training.

First off, in the next week or so I will transition the site to a new design. It's cleaner, more professional and just looks way better. Well, that's what I think at least. Check out a testpage here:

Link no longer available.

Just working through the last few little changes and then I am changing over 400+ pages. I am hoping I won't make too many mistakes with this, but let me know if you find there is something that isn't quite working the way you think it should. And of course, let me know what you think about the new design!

Almost Five

Almost five years ago I registered the domain The site has been growing and growing and keeps on attracting more visitors each week.

In March I experienced a new highlight: we broke the 3,000 visitors-mark on a number of days and every day more than 2,000 people came to visit the site. For what started off as a little hobby site about running with 10-20 daily visitors for the first six months that's not bad at all.

Probably time for a little survey. I'd like to know what you think should be different about What isn't there yet, that should really be there? And what is it that you like about the site?

Tell me via the contact form and help me push towards 5,000 visitors / day!

Speed Training

I have just come out of my base building period for the season. So for the last months I have only done easy runs, easy runs and more easy runs. It's an important part of the season (without a base, your speed will not take you far), but doing the same type of workout every time can get a bit boring.

I do my best to make the base building period as interesting as possible. I try to make sure I have got a broad range of routes to choose from. Instead of doing the same loop every single day, I try to mix it up a little bit. What I also like is to have a few hills in my longer runs. It gives me that extra little bit of leg strength and again, provides variation.

I did a fun run last weekend and although my time wasn't particularly impressive I did notice that on the hilly parts of the course I kept on flying while others slowed down markedly. Practice makes perfect, so make hills a regular part of your runs as well. Even when you are not doing hill repeats or specific hill training it does help to condition your legs.

From this week onwards I am starting to do some faster running as well. Transitioning to faster running can be quite tough after a lengthy base building period. It is almost like you have to relearn how to run fast. That's why I like to ease into my speed training.

Like last night, when I did a 12K run which alternated 1 minute hard and 3 minutes of easy running. Over the next few weeks I will build up that time spent running hard and reduce the recovery periods until we get to some tougher sessions.

Good examples of some of these sessions are 1-mile repeats, 5 x 2k @ 10k pace with 2 mins recovery, 4 x 5 min interval pace with 2.5 min recovery and really tough ones like 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy or 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy until exhaustion. So, lots of fun ahead...

For me, this type of transition from slower running to faster running makes sense. I have always felt there is too much injury risk for me if I just jump into intervals without giving my body a gentle introduction to speed.

My 1 minute hard, 3 minutes easy session went very well, not in the least because of a new little device I have been using, the Gymboss.

The Gymboss is an interval timer / counter that allows you to set up two separate times that count down. So with my session I just entered a 3 minute period and a 1 minute period, clipped the Gymboss to my shorts and started running. Every time one of these periods was over I got a warning (you can set it to a loud or a soft beep and/or vibrate) and then changed my pace accordingly.

It was so much more peaceful than running with my heart rate monitor which only allows one interval time to be set up. In the old situation I would set my watch to a 4-minute countdown, but would then have to watch the time continuously to make sure I would not miss the 1-minute mark. It's okay, but just a little bit annoying to be constantly having to look at your watch.

Last night's session was a lot more comfortable. I could just run, leave the watch at home and react to the alarms. I did not look at the clock one single time. And the Gymboss counted up the number of intervals I did so in the end I still knew how long I had been running for.

It's very cheap and worth its price for the comfort I got in that one speed session alone!

Click here for more information about the Gymboss.

More Fire - The Secrets to Kenyan Running

Someone from Eritrea broke the half marathon world record last week. Regardless of that, Kenya is still seen to be the biggest nation for middle and long distance running over the last 10-15 years. I am currently reading More Fire, a book by Toby Tanser, that explores the reasons why the Kenyans have been so dominant.

There is a range of reasons people have found for this phenomenon: their body composition, running at altitude, their diet, etc. There may be some truth to some of that.

More Fire covers a history of Kenyan running, their running training, short bios of Kenyan runners + examples of their running training and a concluding part that tells us how to pick up some of that Kenyan magic in our own training. The history part of the book is okay, but not why I got the book. I wanted to understand more about the training these guys do.

And regardless of the benefits these guys get out of altitude, the length of their shinbone and the acidity of their earwax (?), what they predominantly do is a whole lot of very tough training.

Many of them have three training sessions a day. Most of the running is done in group sessions and turn out to be races or race-like situations. Many of their runs start off slow, but get faster and faster as they progress. It does not seem like they have any real easy runs.

When you log 3 training sessions a day with one of them being a gruelling interval session, fartlek or hill repeats and cover more distance on a day than the average club runner would do in a week, you can imagine that come race day, you run with More Fire!

I have not finished the book completely yet, but there are definitely some gems in there, some ideas about certain types of running to do. You get quite a bit of detail about the training these guys put in, so you can start comparing with your own training and try to find the things that are the same and the things that are different.

When you want to improve your running, you will want to learn from the best.

Click here for more information about More Fire

That's it for now.
Keep your eyes out for the new design and make sure you check out that Gymboss.
In the meantime, come visit my site often and happy running.





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