I used to run far more than I did in the last couple of years. It was Marina who brought me back to more regular running, when she asked me to run the first Nikes Women’s run with her in Berlin. This was the starting point for a couple of street runs we did just for fun. These street runs made me realize, that the years I took more or less a break from regular running had me lose a lot of running speed.
And I admit, even though we do these runs for fun, I still have a tiny little bit of ambition to run each run just a bit faster than the last one.
Last year when Marina trained for her first marathon that also inspired me to run a lot more regularly. And by autumn my average distance of a run was far longer than in the previous years (as a positive side effect I had also lost one size in my clothing).
But sadly I also noticed that my running speed had not improved much.
I am a very consistent runner concerning my running speed. I have had street runs of 10km where I ran each of the 10km in exactly the same time varying by 2sec at most. And I do not do that by looking at a stop watch, it is just my body that has a very even comfort pace.
I am also a comfort runner. Meaning that I have a pace that I feel comfortable in. It is very hard for me to do longer runs slower or faster than my comfort speed. Even if I try to run at a different pace I end up in the same tempo after a few minutes.
Need for Change
I order to increase my running speed I clearly have to change something in my running routine. Running at more or less the same speed only more often clearly did not make me faster last running season. The advice you usually get for increasing your running speed is to do tempo runs in between. Instead of simply running the whole distance in more or less on tempo, you run a couple of minutes a lot faster than usual and then run a couple of minutes slower – or even walk for a bit.
The principle is clear: by adding some faster runs into your routine, you adjust your body
to running faster.
Now, I admit I am lazy. I do not like to count minutes while running. I also enjoy the scenery on my runs a lot and do not want to spend my runs keeping an eye on my watch and sprinting through nature.
So what should I do?
Using the given surroundings
Although I live in Berlin, I also live near a couple of lakes. Most of my running trails go around one or more of these lakes. It is a beautiful scenery and ideal for running. These lakes have one specialty that provide a solution to my problem that I need to do speed runs to increase my speed but do not like speed running.
These lakes lie a considerable distance lower than the surrounding forest. All around the lakes different kind of stairs go down to the lake. These stairs now serve me as my speed running trail.
Increasing My Running Speed
Here is my own personal version of tempo runs: A couple of times per week in
addition to running around the lakes I now also sprint up some stairs. And believe me there are a lot of stairs. Around one of the lakes which is approximately 2.5km there are 9 different staircases for me to sprint. You can see on the pictures how much they vary in length and how steep they are. I have to concentrate not to fall when I sprint up these stairs. And it is really energy-sapping.
The trail around the other two lakes is longer but has less staircases.
However, these tempo runs are not only more exhausting than simply running around the lake in my comfort pace. The stairs obviously also train my bum muscles – and believe me my bum can do with some toning… I had considerable muscle aches and tired legs after the first staircase run I did.
So, even if my speed is not going to increase, these staircase runs will help me get into better shape.
I have just started my staircase runs, the first time around it was a run of 6km with 10 staircase-sprints as add on. I will gradually increase the number of stairs and the distance of the runs for my own personal running workout.
To see some measurable results in my running speed, I have to keep going a couple of weeks. I will keep you updated on my progress concerning the number of stairs I do, the distance I run and the comfort pace of my “normal” runs.