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4 important lessons for runners from the NN Running Team

NN Running released a documentary on speed work, and it has a lot of information that runners of all levels can use to improve

Eliud Kipchoge Photo by: NN Running Team/Instagram

In April, the NN Running Team released a mini-documentary looking into the importance of the long run, and they have just dropped a new film, this time diving into speed work. The documentary is just 18 minutes long, and it’s worth taking the time to give it a watch. Viewers hear from Eliud Kipchoge, his coach, Patrick SangKenenisa Bekele and many other athletes. There are a lot of valuable nuggets of information in this film, but we’ve selected the top few. These runners may be posting sub-2:10 marathons (or sub-two-hour marathons in Kipchoge’s case), but they have a lot to teach runners of all levels. 

Changing your mindset  

Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands trains in Kenya with the NN Running Team, and he talks about speed sessions and how they used to be a chore to him. Until recently, he dreaded track workouts. In the last couple of years, he’s come to like them. 

“When I changed that mentality,” he says, “I was able to run much faster in the marathon.” You don’t have to love every workout, but if you don’t dread them, you might end up performing better, both in training and in racing. 

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Keep your own pace

Sang says he caters workouts not just to the top athletes, but to his slower runners, too. Everyone runs the same workouts, but they’ll all benefit from them. “If you train with Geoffrey Kamworor or Eliud Kipchoge and you’re an upcoming athlete and you force yourself to stay with them, then naturally, you’re killing yourself,” Sang says. “So we always encourage people to know themselves [and] understand their bodies.” Some of the world’s best runners have to rein themselves in sometimes, and you should, too. Don’t feel pressure to keep up with anyone, just run the pace you’re comfortable running. This will help you down the road. 

Train faster than goal pace

Bekele says it’s important to train at a pace that is faster than your goal race pace. He uses the example of running a pace of 2:50 per kilometre for the marathon. That’s a speed most of us can only dream of maintaining for 42K, but there’s still a lesson for everyone. He says he trains at 2:40 per-kilometre pace if he’s aiming to run 2:50 in a race. “At least you have a 10 second gap,” he says. “That means when you are going to run 2:50 per kilometre in the marathon, your body will not be struggling, just relaxed.” 

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Stick to your set pace

So you’ve decided to run 10 seconds faster than your goal race pace, whatever that may be. Now don’t change it, says Victor Chumo, Kenyan NN team member. “We try to stick with the pace the coach has advised,” he says. “We don’t get crazy.” When you’re feeling good, it can be easy to push the pace faster than you’d planned, but it’s always best to stick to the prescribed speeds that you set for yourself before your run. Even the best struggle with this, but it’s something everyone should practice.