Sprint to ultra: keep speed, build distance

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Sprint to Ultra Johardt van Heerden Michael Carratu Coach Mo t17

When you gently change gears and drive in fourth gear at 60km per hour with
no stops, you are hardly consuming fuel. If you always drive like that you will have loads of fuel but always arrive at the back of the pack without being able to comfortably go faster and all the parking will be gone. In running you can also find that ideal pace when you hit cruise control and just stay in the zone. If you also enjoy shorter runs and don’t want to snail along at endurance pace at all the events you run, the following can assist you.

Mathematical measure

Running works on a scale of measurements, for instance if you take out all the hills and for argument’s sake look at a flat course: If the runner can run 4h10min over 42km, he should be able to run 21km in 2h01min, 10km in 54min, and 5km in 26min.

Coach Mo pacing table 5km 10km 21km 42km marathon t17

For this runner to improve on his endurance runs, he needs to better his time on the shorter runs and save his slow easy runs for the weekend. One of the best ways to see improvement in speed is to run short sprints at the end of your easy run. Six 80m strides with short rest is ideal.

Maintain intensity

You should maintain your weekly runs at a higher intensity than your planned endurance event and long slow distance runs. Don’t be afraid to break down your training sessions so that you can go faster. Three 15min sessions at your tempo pace with two minutes recovery jogging in between will be more valuable than a 50min easy pace run.

Alternate weekend long runs with two consecutive shorter runs. For example
if you do 2h30min long runs over the weekend, consider a 1h40min and another 1h20min run. These runs can then be done slightly faster.

Proper posture

We lose a lot of speed because of bad posture when fatigue kicks in. To counter that, focus on core strength and posture exercises. Maintain your stride length, and keep the upper body open to allow maximum oxygen intake.

Race commitment

Commit to run shorter events often. This will keep you sharp and your results will still be a true reflection of your ability.

Run well.

This article was originally published in TRAIL 17.

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