One of the biggest challenges runners face is how to translate their speed over a shorter distance, like a 5K, into a good result over a longer distance, like a marathon. Runner, sports rehabilitation therapist and coach James Dunne comes across this issue with many of his athletes. In this short video, he explains three ways that pro athletes accomplish this and how recreational runners can apply these principles to their training to be able to run faster for longer.
Improve your aerobic engine
The first and arguably most important way elite athletes build up their speed endurance is by improving their aerobic engine. Dunne explains that the only way to do this is to build a bigger base of aerobic fitness through three types of sessions in your weekly running program: the long run, midweek aerobic runs and tempo workouts.
The long run: The pace should be slow and steady, firmly in your aerobic zone. You should be able to maintain a back-and-forth conversation fairly easily during your long run. The length of your longest long run will vary depending on the length of your goal race.
Midweek aerobic runs: As Dunne explains, if you’re running three times a week, doing one long run, one threshold (or tempo) run and one easy run, the best way to see improvement is to add another easy aerobic day, rather than another workout. This allows you to accumulate more weekly mileage without placing undue stress on your body. Dunne encourages most runners to build toward running around six hours per week.
Tempo workouts: These workouts are run at the point when your aerobic system is topping out and your anaerobic system is starting to kick in (a.k.a. your lactate threshold). In other words, a tempo run should be done at a pace that feels “sustainably uncomfortable.” As you do these types of workouts, your body will be able to run at an increasingly faster pace before you reach your lactate threshold, allowing you to run further, faster.