Posted on February 01, 2014
Let's face it, there is a reason you run distance. Actually, there are several reason with one being the complete lack of effective fast-twitch muscle fibers. This keeps you tied to long distance running. But just because you run distance does not mean you can't work to increase your overall speed. From "surging" throughout a race, to improving your stamina, strength training will help you as a distance runner and is a worthy pursuit.
Lower Posterior Strength
Before beginning any speed endeavor, ensuring a strong lower posterior is a must. You will prevent injury and put yourself in the best possible position to have a successful workout. The areas most important in speed training are the lower back, gluteal muscles and hamstrings. Left under-trained, you are asking for a season-ending injury. Isolating these areas with Myosource Ultimate Kinetic Bands / resistance bands and plyometric exercises are good approaches to preparing yourself for speed workouts. While some might believe running alone will strengthen those areas adequately, it's simply not the case. You must supplement with targeted exercises working those specific muscle groups.
Interval training really pushes the limits of your anaerobic capacity by varying the length and intensity of a workout. For example, you could run mile repeats with 400 meter sprints or jogs in-between. By alternating fast then slow and repeating, you are building up your stamina and developing the rate at which your stride turns over. Not only is it beneficial for your endurance but it can also improve speed.
By incorporating a tempo run into your workout you can become a faster 5k runner, a stronger 10k runner and a more solid marathoner. Tempo run will teach your body how to run faster and longer before fatigue. Typically, a tempo run lasts for 25 minutes at a pace you could sustain if you had to run for an hour. There are a variety of tempo run workouts online. Make sure to browse them and add this vital component to your training.
Do not let the classification of "distance runner" remove the word "speed" from your vocabulary. There are a variety of ways to improve your speed training and doing so will not only increase your endurance but it could give you that edge when you cross the finish line. That edge might just be the difference between champion and runner-up.