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  1. #1
    HWS
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    How does a 44 year old guy who runs a 7 1/2 minute mile

    get faster?

    I know this is a tri forum, but I'm looking for advice on how to improve my short distance (2-3 mile) run times.

    I've been doing intervals and just trying to run faster, but I'm not improving, just running out of gas quicker. My goal is to be able to run 1.5 miles in under 9 minutes by next summer.

    Any ideas?

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    Generic Title ProFail's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HWS View Post
    get faster?

    I know this is a tri forum, but I'm looking for advice on how to improve my short distance (2-3 mile) run times.

    I've been doing intervals and just trying to run faster, but I'm not improving, just running out of gas quicker. My goal is to be able to run 1.5 miles in under 9 minutes by next summer.

    Any ideas?
    Do a lot of 1.5 mile runs along with normal training. However, I think that knocking that much time off that fast is pretty unlikely.
    Generic Joke

  3. #3
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    How many interval days are you doing each week? Are you getting enough rest between hard workouts?
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  4. #4
    Fast for a Fred JayhawKen's Avatar
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    A few fact finding questions.

    - how many miles & days do you run in a typical week?
    - have you raced a 5k, and if so do you have a finishing time?
    - if not, what do you estimate your time would be if you were running for your life?
    - what does your typical running week look like?
    - how long have you been running (defined as at least 3x / week)?
    - what is your height/weight?

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    The #1 biggest thing to improve your shorter times is to run longer. If you want to race at 2-3 miles your training should include 5 mile runs hopefully twice a week. Run them at a 10 minute/mile pace. This will help build your VO2. Add in interval training, and of course hill training (example I have a park near me that i can set up a loop with 3 short but steep hills that is 1/2 mile total, I do that 6-8 times). Its not about forcing yourself to be faster its about making it easier for you to go faster.

    9 minutes is a steep goal but it CAN be done, how many days a week are you training?
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  6. #6
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    There's good advice here already. Let me add 2 cents.

    Go to the track. You are running 1:52 laps now (old-style 440 yd track). You've got to run 1:30's to meet your goal. You might be surprised to find that running even one lap at that pace is a struggle. If so, you need both endurance and speed training.

    On the other hand if you find that you can run a lap at that pace handily, then simply increasing the length of runs at below race pace will be rewarded with increased aerobic endurance that will bring your times ino the range you seek. You are young, so you probably still have a fair turn of speed.

    TysonB

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    Surf Bum
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    You may find you like the track: I did. Could never stand the long boring runs.

    What I'd do is 200m repeats. Do 200m at close to full out, and then coast the rest of the lap back to the start. Repeat without stopping. When you can do 30 seconds for the 200 and then 60 second cruise for the rest of the lap, guess what? You're on your 6min mile pace you are aiming for. Of course you're not going to run the race in bursts like that, but if you can do 6 laps of those repeats, then you can easily do your 1.5 miles in 9min.

  8. #8
    HWS
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    Thanks for the replies.

    I typically run 3-5 miles 3 days a week and either cycle or elliptical 3 days and rest one. When I run, I'll use the first quarter mile as a warm up and then start intervals of 100- 150 yards followed by a recovery of about the same length.

    This goal isn't for a race but to set an example for some guys who work for me (military) who don't are struggling with fitness.

    I an currently 5-10 and 183 lbs.

  9. #9
    Body by Guinness cjbruin's Avatar
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    It's touched on above but I'll be a bit more direct. You need to build your aerobic engine by running longer at a lower HR. Intervals are the icing on the cake and you don't have the cake yet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjbruin View Post
    It's touched on above but I'll be a bit more direct. You need to build your aerobic engine by running longer at a lower HR. Intervals are the icing on the cake and you don't have the cake yet.
    +1.

    Plus nothing but 100-150 yard intervals is not what you need. Try some 440's in there.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

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    An improvement of that caliber will require more than faster speedwork at your training volume, unfortunately.

    Reality:
    - VO2 gains (from intervals) happen quickly, feel great, but will stop after about 6-8 weeks. Most people train to this point, and assume they can't ever get any better.

    - Aerobic gains - (from long slow runs) Are almost limitless, although there is diminishing returns. You need to usually train for over an hour to start really developing this; some experts consider 90+ minutes the minimum. This will give by far the greatest gains over the long run, and likely the type of training you need to build toward to accomplish the types of performance you shoot for.

    If you are really serious about running improvement in the 5k, I highly recommend Pfitzinger's "Road Racing for Serious Runners." It goes into all the details above as well as outlines day by day plans to really improve. And as you'd expect, it isn't easy.

    I was plateaued at a 20:30 5k for 10 years despite running 35 miles per week and doing 2-3 super-hard sprint sessions per week. In contrast, after 1 season of marathon training with much higher volume (over 40 mpw) only 1 interval session every week (or even every other week), my 5k dropped to 18:30, a time I thought was physically impossible for me.

    I strongly, strongly suspect that you need to increase your weekly mileage above all. The intervals will help - but only for about a few weeks, and unless you are very talented or out of shape now, you will not improve very significantly after then. The longer, slower, higher volume route is better - these principles are followed buy Pfitz, Daniels, and other world-class coaches, who introduce speedwork as an adjunt to proper volume.
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    Quote Originally Posted by agarose2000 View Post
    I strongly, strongly suspect that you need to increase your weekly mileage above all.
    I agree.
    Back when I raced 5k's, 5 miles would be an off day - day before a race. Normal training days would be 8-12 miles. 5 days a week. Before that when I raced 400m races, 3-4 miles warm up followed by a bunch of intervals, then another mile or two at a slow cool-down training pace.

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    Lots of sound advice here. May sound counterintuitive, but you need the volume increase to get faster on the short track.

    More volume at a lower intensity may also help your body burn fat preferentially over glycogen. At your h/w, unless you're seriously buff, losing 5-8 lbs probably wouldn't hurt and would definitely make you faster (imagine how much slower you would run with a five pound plate on your back).
    That said, priority should be getting the calories needed for recovery. You sound quite fit, the suggestion is at best a marginal one.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by trisaiah View Post
    you need the volume increase to get faster on the short track.
    Is this "need" universally accepted now by the training gurus? It wasn't the last time I trained competitively (I'm in my 40s now so it's been a while...). There were plenty of coaches and runners who believed the need for a "long slow run" was exaggerated and stressed more interval and track training instead. ("gotta run fast to get fast," type of thing). Or at the very least stressed that longer runs should build in pace.

    Remember guys, he only wants to run 1.5 miles here. 9 minutes. So much of the training talk that is done these days is for marathoning since for some reason there are a lot more people out there who would rather spend all day running 26 miles at 200-300% of world record pace than there are people wanting to run 1.5 miles at 150% of world record time like HWS wants to. But the training one does for the shorter race should be very different than what one needs for a marathon. Remember, you don't need additional glycogen stores even for 10k races, much less 2k ones. Similarly, mitochondria only really come into play for aerobic running of longer distances, and you also don't need to burn fat for short distances like HWS has in mind either.

    I use to use the book done by Sebastian Coe and his father. I seem to remember Coe saying "Long, slow distance produces long, slow runners."

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    Quote Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
    Is this "need" universally accepted now by the training gurus? It wasn't the last time I trained competitively (I'm in my 40s now so it's been a while...). There were plenty of coaches and runners who believed the need for a "long slow run" was exaggerated and stressed more interval and track training instead. ("gotta run fast to get fast," type of thing). Or at the very least stressed that longer runs should build in pace.

    Remember guys, he only wants to run 1.5 miles here. 9 minutes. So much of the training talk that is done these days is for marathoning since for some reason there are a lot more people out there who would rather spend all day running 26 miles at 200-300% of world record pace than there are people wanting to run 1.5 miles at 150% of world record time like HWS wants to. But the training one does for the shorter race should be very different than what one needs for a marathon. Remember, you don't need additional glycogen stores even for 10k races, much less 2k ones. Similarly, mitochondria only really come into play for aerobic running of longer distances, and you also don't need to burn fat for short distances like HWS has in mind either.

    I use to use the book done by Sebastian Coe and his father. I seem to remember Coe saying "Long, slow distance produces long, slow runners."
    As I mentioned in my post above, the necessity for high volume for improvement is strongly endorsed by nearly all amateur and elite coaches. It is true that as recent marathon race times have dropped to jaw-droppingly fast levels and more genetically gifted runners are coming to the races, elite level coaches are finding that they have had to innovate training and move toward more high-intensity/lower volume training for these ELITES. Keep in mind that an elite marathoner runs 120-140 miles per week, so lower volume would be 100ish. Even the world-champion miler Bernard Lagat runs 70mpw, and that is definitely considered "low volume" for a distance guy at the elite level. Also remember that the marathon WR is run at 4:50min/mile for 26 miles - to run that far that fast, you certainly need to be doing a lot of high intensity work.

    However, at the amateur level (99+% of us), higher volume has been shown time and time again to be the only reliable way to continue to improve. Look up any physiology/coaching book, and it will show the limitations in VO2/lactate gains after 6-10 weeks of low-volume high-intensity training. This phenomena is not disputed by any leading coach in any discipline. So unless you're incredibly gifted (and even if you are), you will not come anywhere near your potential without a large and strong base training volume.

    This topic is hammered to death on a daily basis on RunnersWorld and other marathon-training forums, where invariably a new training plan promising to deliver "personal best" results on shockingly low volumes of running (run a marathon on under 25 miles per week?!) is taken up by folks, and they come crying back asking why they missed their projected goals by huge margins. On the bright side, they often take the advice after learning the hard way, and come back with spectacular improvement by sticking to basic non-fad plans. Another equally hammered question is whether "my 5k will get worse with marathon training" since the speedwork seems to be less. The overarching answer is NO, unless you were a strong 5k runner or already trained high volume to begin with. In 90+% of cases, myself included, people are shocked with their 5k race results after marathon training, as they significantly exceed anything they've ever accomplished with low-volume/hi intensity 5k training or even deemed possible.

    I've asked around and been on run forums for years, and it seems that people in general (big GENERAL here) seem to hit a nice mix of performance/ability at around 70mpw. I dropped my marathon time by 40 minutes (!!) by jumping from 50mpw to 70mpw. In contrast, when I went up to 90mpw, I only dropped my PR by 4 minutes or less. Triathletes can run less due to x-training effects, but there really is no substitute for sport-specific higher volume training.
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  16. #16
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    Thanks for the thorough response. I've seen the same debates on Runner's World forums more than ten years ago, ha!

    Again, I need to remind you that we aren't talking about a marathon, or even a 5k. We're talking about a 9 min run, by a guy who one assumes already gets plenty of longer (time) low heart rate activity on a bicycle (since this discussion is taking place here). He also isn't trying to do anything terribly crazy as far as pace goes. And over a 9 min race, he's using totally different body processes than one uses in longer races. I just think that if you want to run 1.5 miles at 6 min mile pace, you'd better get your body used to running at that pace or faster. You don't do anything of the sort by jogging around at conversational pace.

    But we've got a world where people decide to start with a 6 hour marathon and then run 100+ mile weeks and hope to knock it down to 5 hrs. and then 4:30 and so on. I've always felt it would make a lot more sense to shoot for "good" times at shorter races and then work up to longer ones. If I was trying to reach the same goal as the OP, I'd go see if I could run a 400 in 1:30. Then an 800 in 3 min. Then I'd work on getting to 1 mile in 6 min. Then I'd shoot for the 1.5 in 9 min.

    To do this, he may indeed get benefit from a few 5 mile runs a week - but I'd do them at a faster pace than is currently in vogue for those trying to run a long way (marathon) no matter how slow.

  17. #17
    Senior Member thehammerdog's Avatar
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    Slick the sad fact is that we all have a natural genetic govenor that dictates how fast we are...your time is pretty good, work on transition time, you can save more time that way. We all cannot be 6 min dudes....

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    I agree we can't all be 6 minute runners, but unless you've trained to the point of putting up 70mpw-90mpw, you're nowhere near your run potential for any distance from 400m to marathon.

    I'm not saying you HAVE to run this high a volume, but if you really think you're hitting your genetic potential at <20mpw, you're definitely incorrect. Most of us can run a LOT faster than we think if we train correctly, but it takes hard work and time. Volume is the underpinning of it all, though.

    Don't focus on your limitations. Dream big and train smart. Even if you don't reach your lofty goals, you'll look back with pride, respect, and even amazement for the hard, smart work you put in for the improvements you've made.

    I wish I could introduce folks to one of my friends who I run with hear in CA. He started running less than 3 years ago, but got bitten by the marathon bug. He's 6'1, and his starting weight as a nonrunner was 261lbs (!). He gradually increased his mileage from zero to 20, then 40, and then 60 over 2 years, and peaked mileage at 100 in the past year. His 5k time dropped from 35 to sub19 at a recent body weight of 190, and he runs marathons at 7min/mile. There's no doubt that he has some talent, but he's a great example of how high volume training can have huge benefits even for big clydesdale class guys who automatically assume they have to give up run performance due to their weight.
    Last edited by agarose2000; 11-14-08 at 10:40 AM.
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  19. #19
    HWS
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    Great info here guys.

    Thanks

  20. #20
    Overacting because I can SpongeDad's Avatar
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    I agree with the volume comments - I think that decreasing volume/increasing intensity only works once you've established a high level of aerobic fitness.

    On the interval/intensity side, I've never tried Tabata intervals, but they're supposed to be brutal.

    You can google it, but basically it's 20 sec balls out intensity/10 secs rest x 8 intervals. Some articles advocate doing that in place of aerobic training, but, again, I think that only works when you're already really fit.
    “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." (Churchill)

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  21. #21
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    On your sprints, even a quarter mile warm up is not enough. Try a 2 mile warmup but slow.

    If you're on a track (440 yards) break up that track into quadrants of 110 yards. Run a 110 followed by a very slow jog of the next 110. Do that for 8 laps. The speed of the 110 run will vary with your age, intended goal. As fast as a 5 minute mile pace may seem, its only 18.75 seconds per 110 yards. That's still kind of slow but maybe that's what you need right now.

    These 110 yard drills will get you accustomed to running faster but still running well within yourself. Then as you get used to this and your body says "I can do this", its time to stretch out that distance to 220 yards with 220 jog but picked up.

    The whole thing will be 2 miles warmup followed by 2 miles of 110's, followed by 1 mile warmdown = total 5 miles. To me, that's a quality workout.

    I don't know how old you are, whether you're the drill sargeant, or just a peer motivator, or what. But listen to your body. Its better to workout with peers than doing it alone. Stay focused, use the jog inbetween the run to recover, that's your mental safety net.
    Last edited by Garfield Cat; 11-16-08 at 11:11 AM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member WxGuesser's Avatar
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    just pay off your UFPM haa haa

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    I improved my 1.5 mile run time by doing speed work. I was running 9:45's now a year later i run a 8:40's.
    Once a week do 200M 10 sets at 5k pace with 30 sec standing rest or light 200M jog. 2 days later run 3 mins at your 10k pace then slowly jog for 1.5 mins do 6-8 sets of these. the alternate week change 200M to 300M or 100M at the same pace with same rest. You dont want to body to get use to this workout, or you will plateau. The easiest thing for you to do is to join a serious running group.

  24. #24
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    Shiiiiiiiiiii

    I would love to be runing 7.5 minute miles, I would consider cutting of a finger to be running those at my age. Good luck bro!

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