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I go running twice a week, 7 miles each time and it takes exactly an hour. I have kept this routine for a while (like 5 months). I was expecting that by time I would get faster but it seems I am not improving at all.

How can I improve my speed? Should I for example run more frequently or run longer each time?

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5 Answers 5

Run more. Much more. Mostly slow, sometimes fast. You're talking about sustaining 6 minute miles for an hour, which is starting to approach the bottom of elite level. That would put you at 1:18ish for a half marathon, which is a very respectable time, and often would place you on or near the podium for an age grouper.

You would need to ramp up to where you are consistently running 5-7 days a week, in the 50-70 miles per week range. This would probably take close to a year to do injury free. Once you get to that point, you can start adding in higher intensity speed work to get faster overall.

You may not be able to get to that point. Your natural abilities may not be sufficient to get to that speed. On the other hand, you may be a natural and get to that point in less than a year, but I can guarantee that running 14 miles a week will not get you there. It's the day in day out consistent mileage that brings gains in running.

Also, you do not state your height or weight. Weight is also very important in running, as being lighter can be critical to moving faster. I've seen some calculations that show every ounce less in your shoe is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 lbs of lifting that your body doesn't have to do. Now translate that to body weight.

Apocryphal lore is that for every pound of bodyweight that you lose, you gain 2-4 seconds per mile of pace (Dependent on personal running efficiency and other factors). So if you lost 10 lbs, theoretically your pace should go from your current 8:34 to 8:14 per mile for the same effort.

But the biggest thing is going to be safely increasing your volume, then gradually adding in the speed work.

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You have built up a good volume foundation by running for several months. You have also trained your body to run at a certain speed by doing it over and over again. If you want to run faster, you have to practice running faster. Since you obviously can't just go out and run 6 minute miles for an hour, you will need to break up your workout into faster runs separated by rest. Here are two techniques:

  1. After warming up, run 400 meters at a faster pace (1 minute faster than your normal pace) or 200 meters at 2 minutes faster, then walk for the same amount of time it took you to run the 400 meters. Repeat 8-10 times. That would constitute a full workout for the day, don't run further afterward.

  2. Get a heart rate monitor and run at your anaerobic threshold (calculate your threshold here). The rate at which your heart provides oxygen to your body is often the limiting factor for speed. Running at or over the anaerobic threshold provides the stimulus to improve this limit. This is difficult training, so you might have to work up to it, but the goal would be to run for 20-30 minutes. Don't do this more than once a week because it requires rest to recover from.

  3. Finally, you might benefit from running a little bit more often. The general consensus is that twice a week is the minimum for retaining your fitness level, and you need three times a week to improve at a decent rate. You still need rest, though, so start at three times a week and see how your body responds before increasing further. Perhaps do sprints one day, threshold training one day, and your normal run one day.

Going from 8:30 miles to 6:00 miles is a significant jump, but it is doable. Since you are doing around 10k distances, I disagree with John, this is not elite level speed. It's very fast, but it is an accessible speed for many people who are patient and can put in the work.

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Its good that you have a few months of running already.

Try to do this atleast once a week :
- longer run
- intervals
- hills (continue fgoing up and down a hill with a 400m peak and a 400m valley
-tempo run(start with 15 slow 10 hard 15 slow without a break
I would say that every week you can increase your workout by 10%. so you could do it 10% longer or 10% more times (hills and intervals)

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If you were to increase by 10% every week, you could run 10 minutes now and 23 hours straight after one year. –  Baarn Nov 17 '12 at 18:36
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I'd recommend you to add Interval Running session to your weekly workouts.

In a nutshell, interval running is a series of short sprints (high-intensity interval) with light jogging in between (rest interval).

Let me explain. Your goal is to run at 6 minutes per mile pace. You can push yourself to run whole workout in that pace, but it will be really hard and stressful for your body to run for an hour in that pace because it's just not get used to it yet. Interval running offers your an opportunity to run in target pace for a short periods of time followed by period of rest. It's much less stressful and helps conditioning your body to run in target pace. Yes, you will need to be pushing yourself during interval trainings, but since yours body will start getting used to that intensity, your natural running pace will increase.

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Could you explain why he should do this? –  Baarn Nov 22 '12 at 15:10
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I've updated my answer with explanation –  Troggy Nov 25 '12 at 11:26
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  • Intervals 5-6 800metre efforts with 1 minute recoveries are good.
  • Hill repeats with recoveries.
  • Tempo runs (eg 5 mile run, 2miles@8:00 then 2miles@6:00 then 1 mile recovery) and long easy Sunday run, also cross country.

I include all this in my weekly training and have brought my 10 mile time down from 1:04 to 1:01. Just outside 6:00 minutes per miles in about a year with some injuries along the way. Now I'm planning for sub 1:00 hour 10 mile if my ankle problem doesn't flare up again.
I also joined my local running club which is why I have gotten faster, so recommend that if you ain't already.

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I edited your answer. Please write complete sentences next time. Feel free to edit the answer again. –  Baarn Oct 16 '13 at 19:08
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@Baarn - You edited it but left in the colloquialism "ain't"? :) –  JohnP Oct 16 '13 at 20:33
    
@JohnP I was taught how to use "ain't" in school. Although I didn't learn it… ;) –  Baarn Oct 16 '13 at 20:36
    
That schedule is good. But I would like to add one statement. Run the interval runs 'faster' and the slow runs 'slower'. The latter is very important in order to perform the intervals well. –  Freakyuser Oct 17 '13 at 2:36
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