PT on the Net Research

Running a Faster Mile


Question:

I have a client who is interested in reducing her running time from 10 to 8 min/mile. Any suggestions on a training regime?

Answer:

This subject always catches people’s attention. How do we get faster? There are books written on this subject area. Most of the books and articles dealing with this subject all start off with having “a reasonable goal.” Is it possible for someone reaching his or her desired objective?

You do not state any specific details about your client that would make direct program advice possible (i.e., age, body composition, how long she has been training, does she have any health issues that may interfere with her goals, etc). You get the picture. My last question is how many miles does she wish to maintain this pace: one mile, three miles or a marathon? Without a full picture of your client, we will construct a general training outline for improving running speed, and hopefully you can apply the principles here to the specific needs and capacity of your client.

As stated above, does this client’s goal seem reasonable? That is something your experience and training will be able to answer. If she does not have any health issues, is not 80 years old and has some running history, then it seems likely she may be able to get there.

Proper Progression

We are all in a hurry to get to our goals. In athletics, a rush to achieve a goal can equal injury or over training, fatigue and sometimes both. Cycling your client’s efforts and volumes is a good formula for success. Generally, it has been my experience that an average cycle should last two to four weeks. This duration keeps everyone’s interest and is long enough to stimulate changes. An example might be three times a week with Day 1 using an endurance run, Day 2 some hill work and Day 3 going with intervals. Distance and intensity are the variables that get adjusted.

Distance or Duration

We have not established what your client’s goals are, so it is difficult to design something precisely. However, if improved speed is the name of the game, then shorter and longer than goal distance should be used. Let's say she wants to run one mile in under eight minutes. Using the above cycle, we would do the following:

Intensity

It is difficult to prescribe intensity without her health history. However, your experience will no doubt be able to judge her work efforts. You can use an article I wrote on the PTN web site called Training Considerations for Mountain Biking. The article pertains to mountain biking but has an interval graph and cross over training heart rate versus VO2 max.

Strength Training

Strength training should be limited to two days a week and done on “off” days. Use two to three compound lifts to keep her strong. Also, focus on the mid-section for abdominal and spinal strength. Use the PTN Exercise Library for lifting ideas

Flexibility after workouts is much easier to achieve. Hamstrings, achilles tendons and hips are the main focus.

I hope this helps you and your client in setting a new personal best.

Good luck!