Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Going to the Next Level: Gradually Increasing the Fast Mileage

Everyone has their own pace.
If you want to go faster, read on as
I share my current strategy for getting to the next level. 

Keep in mind that  in order to apply the idea to your running,
you will need to adjust the numbers accordingly.


I have been doing a careful analysis of my runs over the last month.  Typically, when runners talk about their training they report miles per week.  Yes, it is easy to add up all of the miles I have run, but that will not tell me about my speed.  I need to know more detailed info.

The big question:  How fast am I running?

To find out, I added up all of the little sprints & intervals on the track, the tempo miles, & all the other types of runs.

In the last month, I have run:

  • a total of 4 miles under a 5 minute mile pace
  • a total of 8 miles between 5 & 6 minute mile pace
  • a total of 21.85 miles between 6 & 7 minute mile pace
  • a total of 74 miles at 7:00-8:40 minute mile pace

Why have I chosen these pace zones?  Becauselast year I ran almost every race at around a 7 minute pace.  I ran 5Ks & 10Ks just below 7 minute pace and half marathons just above a 7 minute pace.

To move to the next level, I’m gradually increasing the distances at the faster speeds.  I am accomplishing this in distances that are short enough for me to safely run at that pace.  The idea is simple enough:

  • When I wanted to race at a 7 minute pace, I ran as many miles as I could at a 6 minute pace.  To get to the next level, I just extended the logic.
  • If I want to eventually race at a 6 minute pace, then I have to gradually increase the total mileage that I run at a 5 minute pace.
  • Likewise, if I ever want to get comfortable running races at a 5 minute pace, then I have to gradually increase the total mileage that I run at a pace much faster.
  • I have no plans to train at a 4 minute pace. My body can’t handle that.  I can, however, complete some 200 meter repeats  and 400 meter repeats at a 4:30-ish mile pace. That will have to suffice for now.

Just to be clear: I am NOT making 1 minute jumps!   I am using 7, 6, & 5 as cut-off points to create pace zones for the sake of analyzing running paces.   I am not trying to run at exactly a 6 minute pace for some things or exactly at 5 minute for some things.   I am running a wide variety of paces at distances at which I can run those paces in a safe, relaxed form.  As I have pointed out in previous posts, it is important to keep a relaxed form while doing speed work.  To avoid injury, I am focused on maintaining relaxed form as I gradually increase the distances.  When I can no longer maintain it, then I know that I am done with my speed work for the day.  Better to ease up and stay healthy so that I can gain speed on another day!

From now on, I will keep weekly totals of overall miles AND miles in each pace zone.  I will make sure to very slowly increase the mileage in the faster zones.

Gradually, over time, I will run faster farther.

I want fast to feel normal.  🙂


“Train hard, race easy, & enjoy the run!”  — P. Mark Taylor



2 responses to “Going to the Next Level: Gradually Increasing the Fast Mileage

  1. evatesq May 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    I like this strategy!

  2. afhill May 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    What a great way to look at it! I too used to be a one-speed runner. Now I do a lot shorter, faster repeats and lo and behold, my body is starting to get used to it! One thing I’ve learned from a lot of one- or two- minute fast repeats is that I really have the ability to kick into a higher gear at the end of a longer run – I know what it feels like to hurt 🙂

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