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I'm wondering how one should control the speed of running. Currently my running speed for a 'long' run goes like this:

1st-3rd minute: Starting an 9km/h going down to about 8km/h. I actually try to run slower, but find it difficult and awkward.

-40th minute: From a little over 8km/h slowly decreasing to 7km/h.

-45th minute: Slightly increased speed (7.5 to almost 8km/h) due to 'end of run motivation'

Heart rate is at about 140bpm after 5minutes and increases slowly to about 150bpm after 40minutes, going to 155-160 in the last 5 minutes.

Question: Should I change anything on the speed profile in order to be able to run for longer time at about the same average speed or a little faster. This is not about the training effect of the pace/intensity, but about the ability to maintain the average speed for longer / increase the average speed for a given distance. Basically as if the run would be a competition.

Especially:

  1. I find it a little strange that I ran so fast in the beginning, although I actively try to go slow. Is this ok, or should I try harder to go slow?

  2. Should I go slower after the first 5 minutes in order to keep my speed until the end?

Background: I picked up running 5 weeks ago and my longest run was (this morning) 6km in 45min as described above. My medium scope goal is to run 8km in an hour. My maximum heart rate is 180bpm.

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I think the title to my question isn't the best possible, so if anybody can improve on that ... –  Jens Schauder Sep 22 '13 at 7:57
    
What are your goals in running? What distances do you want to improve at? –  zero-divisor Sep 22 '13 at 9:13
    
my medium scope goal is in the question: 8km in an hour. But I have various training tools to work on that. For this question: Is there a way I can run the same distance a little faster (or at same average speed a little longer) by controlling my pace in a different way? –  Jens Schauder Sep 22 '13 at 9:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Basic running concepts are as follows: Certain running intensities cause certain adaptions within your body (VO2max, lactate threshold, etc). Therefore, when training, runners often either

  • Run at a constant pace/intensity
  • Run at a constant pace/intensity with breaks in between, known as interval training (used for high intensities that can't be maintained for more than a couple of minutes)

Intensity does not necessarily correspond to a certain pace (hills, the amount of sleep you got, hydration, etc. and so on affect the intensity). But targeting a certain pace is a good point to start with, therefore I recommend tracking your running pace with a GPS device or something similar. For learning more about which training intensities cause which effects, take a look my answer to this question along with the linked resources.

EDIT:

Note that increasing the amount of time you can hold a certain pace is equivalent to increasing you average pace for a given period. If your pace decreases from 9 to 7km/h at the end of a 45min run, this just means you are not yet able to run 45mins with a 9km/h pace. If you don't want your pace to decrease at the end, you could either start with a lower pace (maybe 7.5-8km/h) pace, or run a shorter distance.

Also note that it is natural that your heart rate constantly goes up during the run, even if you run at the same pace. This effect decreases for experienced runners tough. So don't go for constant heart rate, but rather for a constant pace.

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My question is not so much about the training effect of a pace/intensity, but the effect on average speed / ability to maintain that speed for as long as possible. –  Jens Schauder Sep 22 '13 at 10:27
    
Increasing the amount of time you can hold a certain pace is equivalent to increasing you average pace for a given period. If your pace decreases from 9 to 7km/h at the end of a 45min run, this just means you are not yet able to run 45mins with a 9km/h pace. If you don't want your pace to decrease at the end, you could either start with a lower pace (maybe 7.5-8km/h) pace, or run a shorter distance. –  zero-divisor Sep 22 '13 at 10:42
    
Also note that it is natural that your heart rate constantly goes up during the run, even if you run at the same pace. This effect decreases for experienced runners tough. So don't go for constant heart rate, but rather for a constant pace. –  zero-divisor Sep 22 '13 at 10:46

First of all, you should switch to referring to different pace units. Try min/km or min/mile. In the running world speed in km/h is nearly meaningless, as you'll hardly encounter these units.

Now, if you want to meet your goal, you should look for a training plan that will take you to your end goal over several weeks. Such training plan should have a combination of speed work, long slow distance (LSD), easy (recovery) runs, tempo runs, etc.

If you want to run faster, you need to push the threshold of your lactic acid and your cardio. If you want to run further, you need endurance. By running the same speed and same distance all the time, you might improve up to a degree, but you'll most likely stagnate without further gains. You need to try to push your heart rate by mixing your exercise.

Personally, if I go on a run I try to run negative split tempo. That means that you set off slower in the first half and return at a faster pace in the second half. This practise will teach you not to "over-cook it", by going too fast when you feel full of energy. In fact my last mile is always the fastest. If you are keen on racing, you'll find this practice useful, when you want to "kick" (speed up) towards the finish. Often this technique makes the difference between beating your PR or your opponent... or not.

Having said, what I did, the best advice for novice runners is to run by feel. Sometimes over-analysing or focusing on a certain pace, only makes your head hurt and at a worse case can lead to demotivation or an injury. So for now, forget GPS, Heart rate monitors, cadence monitors, etc.

I'd recommend you cut down to about 5k and run that for 2-3 weeks, till you can run it comfortably at a easy 6:30 min/km pace. After that you might want to try and add a stride(s) to your run. That means speeding up for say 100-200 metres. Not sprinting just let's say to 5:30 min/km. Start with one stride and increase them on weekly basis up to 4-5.

To add miles (kilometers) to your runs, should be done gradually too. You try to quickly and you'll most likely injure yourself, as your body hasn't build the supporting structure. It is recommended to increase by 10% per week. If you stick to 3 runs per week with plenty of rest in between, perhaps some cross training (bike or swim), you'll improve dramatically over 9 weeks. I'd recommend you set a goal of 10km in an hour and with a good training plan you'll achieve that. Hope it helps.

Good places to go for more info:

Mcmillan Running

Runners World

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Good introduction in training basics. But only paragraph number 4 answers my question. Have a +1 for that alone. –  Jens Schauder Nov 3 '13 at 6:07
    
A little of topic, but gathering all the metrics and seeing them getting better over time is actually a huge motivator for me. –  Jens Schauder Nov 3 '13 at 6:08
    
@JensSchauder I agree that the watch and other methods (e.g. Strava.com) are fantastic as motivators. Not only for speed but to do more exercise and more often. Yet, the dangers for new runners (5 weeks running still qualifies as that) is causing an injury if you do too much too quickly. I had a stress fracture caused primarily by that. I also encounter too many runners who are so obsessed with their numbers that they forget how to run naturally. I have seen them stress out when running too slow, not running enough in a week and coming short during a race. So, enjoy and not over-analyse :) –  petrfaitl Nov 3 '13 at 19:25
    
I plan to enjoy AND over analyse ;-) –  Jens Schauder Nov 4 '13 at 5:06

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