“Never mistake motion for action.” Ernest Hemingway
After you build you mileage and your aerobic fitness, you must build strength in order to develop speed. Without aerobic capacity and strength, developing speed is impossible. So, you’ve been doing your long runs and building your weekly mileage. Now that hints of spring are everywhere, you’re eager to start racing fast.
Before you attempt fast running build your strength. There are two approaches to strength, and both involve hills. The key is what Owen Anderson calls a “quadruple” workout: improving four physiological aspects: VO2max, vVO2max, economy and lactate threshold!
VO2max is the maximum volume of oxygen you can process.
vVO2max is the minimum velocity that produces VO2max.
Economy is the ability to exercise efficiently, produce the most speed while using the least fuel.
Lactate threshold is the point at which you begin to produce lactate acid.
Heikki’s Hills – named after the Finnish exercise physiologist Heikki Rusko. Several times a week, go to a reasonably steep hill that will take you about 3 and a half minutes to climb. After a good warm-up, begin repeats on the hill, being certain to get your effort above 90% of maximum on each climb. The rest of the week train modestly. You should continue to do you long workout once per week.
Lydiard’s Hill Drills – taught to me by the New Zealand coaching legend in the late 1970’s. these drills are not to be done fast. Go slowly and concentrate on form. The intent is to get height, not forward movement. It doesn’t matter how fast you get up the hill. Find a hill that is about 200 to 400 meters long with a flat run-out at the top and bottom. Start each drill with an easy jog along the flat. When you hit the hill begin the drill. When you reach the top of the hill begin a jog along the flat. After about 400 meters, turn around and continue jogging back to the hill. Run the down hill with a comfortable and quick stride. Start with two or three repeats of each drill, at the most. Increase the repeats as you feel stronger and your technique improves. Keep the workout to 60 minutes. Your heart rate should be extremely high when you reach the top of the hill at the end of each repeat. Don’t stop! Jog easy along the flat for 400 meters, turn around and jog back to the hill. Keep moving during these workouts, don’t stop and stand (or bend over with hands on knees!). You can substitute step running if you can’t find a suitable hill or weather prevents you from doing these drills. Drive hard off the rear leg. Push hard of the toes, extending your ankle on each stride. Lift your body from your pelvis.
Bounding - These are elongated stride running, but instead of trying to go fast and cover a lot of distance, focus on getting a lot of lift off the ground.
Skipping - These are just like skipping, but try to get as much height as possible. Switch you lead leg on alternate repeats.
Knees High - Exaggerate your knee lift on each stride. You’re goal is to go up in the air and only slightly forward with each stride.
Both workouts are designed to build muscle strength and increase the capillary beds.