How to plan a long term speed improvement plan

As with everything, the best results will come with gradual steady progress rather than jumping in at the deep end and going all out.
Here is our advice on how to plan and execute a successful session.
Like most goals and working towards them, it is best to start with the end result in mind, and plan back from that up until the present day.
So, if for example, we were aiming to do a 10K race in 60 minutes in a few months time, this is how we recommend planning it.
Break the distance and time down into 100M intervals and their relative time in seconds;
10K = 10,000M (10x1000metres) = 60 mins = 3600 seconds (60minsx60secs)
10,000M÷100 = 100M so 3600÷100=36
Therefore if we were to run 100M in 36 seconds 100 times, we would do 10K in 60 minutes.
We next have to find somewhere with a distance of 100M that we know is 100M. If you can get to an athletics track, then the distances are all known and marked, if not, a bit of ingenuity is called for.
After a proper warm up (slow running for 10-15 minutes should be fine) we will then go and run this 100M distance in a time of 36 seconds. This is called the ‘effort’.
We then really really slowly jog back to the starting point. This is called the ‘recovery’. (Please time this recovery for week 5!)
We then repeat both the effort and recovery a further 3 times.
We then do a really good cool down so we can gradually and controllably bring the heart rate down to normal.
So what we have done here is 4X100M efforts @36 secs and 4X100M recovery. It doesn’t seem like much, but as I’ve already mentioned, slowly and steadily is the best way to achieve results and keep injuries at bay.
The next week, we increase the effort and recovery distance to 200M but keep the pace the same. So we will do 4X200M@72 secs (1Min 12 secs) and 4X200M recovery.
The next week we will do 4X300M efforts in 108 seconds (1 minute 48 secs) with 4X300M recovery
And the next week we will increase to 4X400M efforts in 144 seconds (2 minutes 24 seconds) with 4X400M recovery.
The idea when doing these efforts isn’t to go out and sprint them. You should be able to do the last effort at exactly the same pace as the first one. Bare this in mind when doing the first week, you may think that 36 seconds (or whatever your target time works out at) is too slow for you and speed it up. DON’T because you are aiming to sustain that pace for over 6 miles (or whatever your target distance is)!
After 4 weeks you will be able to do 1 mile+ (1600M) at target race pace. With this method though, you have got recoveries in. What we now need to do is go back to square one, but reduce the recovery time as in a race situation you won’t be stopping every 100M!).
If you noted your recovery time from week 1, we now need to halve that! So in this example we will say that in week one your recovery time was 80 seconds.
So week 5 will consist of 4X100M @36 secs with 4X40secs OR 50M recovery.
Week 6 will consist of 4X200M @72 secs with 4X80 secs OR 4X100M recovery.
Week 7 will consist of 4X300M @108 secs with 4X120 secs OR 4X150M recovery.
Week 8 will consist of 4X400M @ 144 secs with 4X160 secs OR 4X200M recovery.

If you are using the recovery time method rather than distance, it is important to keep moving to keep your legs working and blood flow to them optimal. Raise your hands to your head to open up your lungs and get more oxygen in!)

In 8 weeks time you will be able to run over 1 mile at target race pace with just 2 mins 40 seconds recovery in the middle – awesome!!!

Now, for the next few weeks, if we reduced the recovery down any further you wouldn’t thank me!! What we will do instead is increase the number of efforts and recoveries, and keep the recovery time/distance the same as in the last 4 weeks.

So;
Week 9: 6X100M@36 secs with 40 secs recovery
Week 10: 6X200M@72 secs with 80 secs recovery
Week 11: 6X300M@108 secs with 120 secs recovery
Week 12: 6X400M@144 secs with 160 secs recovery

Then for the next 4 weeks we will again, increase the number of reps and maintain the same recovery time/distance.
Week 13: 8X100M
Week 14: 8X200M
Week 15: 8X300M
Week 16: 8X400M

One last time we will increase the number of reps to 10.
Week 17: 10X100M
Week 18: 10X200M
Week 19: 10X300M
Week 20: 10X400M

A safe and sensible 20 Week plan to smash your goals. Come race day the adrenalin and atmosphere, and being in the correct mental state will do the rest for you. Remember on race day to maintain the same steady pace that you’ve trained your body to do over the last 20 weeks, don’t sprint off and use all of the fuel in the tank.
I’m sure you will be tempted to miss out parts, purely out of desire to achieve your goals quicker. This is a tried and tested method that I use myself, be patient and work hard. Skipping elements will more than likely cause you an injury. Ask yourself, would you prefer to wait 20 weeks and smash your targets, or work hard for 10 weeks then miss the race due to being injured?!!
A really thorough warm up and cool down are essential with every session, don’t risk not doing them!
Also, very useful things to do after your warm up and before the main session are some exercises called ‘plyometric’ exercises. I have mentioned them a few times in the past; this bit is your own homework. Have a google to see what you can come up with, and maybe we’ll post a few exercises over the next few weeks 😉
Also, try to find out what plyometric or ‘plyo’s’ are, why they’re good for us and what they result in. The more knowledge you have the more of a foundation of resources you have as an athlete!

This will not work if it is your only method of training. It will only work in conjunction with at least 2 other runs per week, you still need to build and maintain a good base level of fitness. This can be done by doing long runs, with a 10K target, 10-12K training runs are fine, and you don’t go out and beast yourself, take them easy, they are nice slow steady runs not races.
As with other forms of exercise, they can go stale, so once in a while mix things up, do a hill session running hard up a hill and slowly back to the bottom and repeat a few times (or hard down the hill and slowly to the top), or a quick 5K run.

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