A great way of progressing from steady running to running faster times is to incorporate strides/speed intervals into your run. They can be done either at the end of your run or in the middle of the run, but never at the start of the workout.
How to do strides/speed intervals
The idea is that you open up your stride length and learn to run quicker for no more than 100m at a time. The best way to think of doing strides is to view it as controlled sprinting.
Now we are not talking about running at 100 per cent effort so that you’re on your back exhausted at the end of it.
Instead you just need to find a middle of the range 60-80 per cent effort.
If you are doing them at the end of the run, you need to find a suitable surface, ideally an athletics track, but grass, a flat trail, or even the pavement is good enough as long as you don’t need to worry about where you’re putting your feet.
Finish your run and just do six to eight intervals of strides with a walk back recovery.
The idea is that you should feel better the more you do, with your last one being the fastest yet also feeling the easiest.
You might ache a bit on the first couple, but this is quite normal because this is your body telling you that it is too used to running slower, and striding hasn’t yet become a regular part of your training.
When to incorporate strides/speed intervals into your workout
If you plan on doing strides/speed intervals in the middle of your run make sure you’ve been running for at least about 1.5km before attempting them, because it is hugely important that you are warmed up before running quicker.
Before starting your six to eight stride intervals, slow your pace down, and jog into the stride, building up until you hit your 60-80 per cent effort before easing back down to the jog you began with.
The reason why you should feel better on the final few strides than you did at the start is because you’ll be extending your muscles further and moving up through the gears, running faster.
By then you should be comfortable and not straining.
Benefits of strides/speed intervals
Once you’ve incorporated strides into your workout a few times each week you should start noticing a difference in the pace of your steady runs.
In fact you might be able to start out a bit quicker than you had previously without any extra effort. You just need to condition the legs to run faster and the more strides you do, the better you will become at gauging pace.
Before you know it you should be running faster and feeling better for it.
Warming up and warming down are vital parts of a running (and any other kind of exercise) regime. A massage gun may help you – especially with your post-exercise recovery. See our piece on Why You Need a Massage Gun for more info. And we also have a dedicated review of the Healsage Pro Massage Gun that may be of interest.