Taking it to the Streets - Page 2A Simple Matter of Improving Fitness
My confinement to pavement was a blessing in disguise, but it doesn’t take an accident to rejuvenate your trail running. If you are trying to be competitive or set a PR, consider dedicating a training segment to the roads—or simply adding a couple of speed-oriented workouts each week.
Glenn Randall, a member of the 2013 U.S. Mountain Running Team, regularly trains for serious efforts on the roads: He ran a 2:20:56 at the 2013 Boston Marathon and a 1:07:33 at the U.S. Half Marathon Championships in June. The Tempe, Arizona, resident (recently relocated from Colorado) says training variety helps his performances on every surface.
“Doing the same exact training all the time isn’t the best,” says Randall. He adds that road races build strength and leg speed that translate well to running in the mountains.
Chris Lundstrom, a 2:17 marathoner, has leveraged his road-running know-how to build a stellar trail resumé: he placed third in the 2009 North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile in San Francisco, and fourth in the 2012 American River 50 Mile in Sacramento. “Everyone can benefit from speed or interval work regardless of what distance and terrain they intend to race on. It’s a simple matter of improving your fitness,” says the Minneapolis-based, USATF-certified coach, who helped me design my winter running plan. “If you can do a long race at 70 percent of your VO2max, you will be able to do it considerably faster if you improve your VO2max through training. Short, fast intervals are a good way to improve your muscular strength, [which] becomes really important the longer the race is.”
If you do decide to pursue speed workouts, proceed carefully. Both Randall and Lundstrom note that harder, strength- and speed-focused efforts should only come after a period of base building. Forcing the body to adjust simultaneously to both higher mileage and higher intensity increases the risk of injury.
Randall’s workouts vary depending on the race he is training for. Whereas road-racing season brings intervals on the track and long runs on the road, his “trail-season” workouts consist of hill repeats (up and down), fartleks on a gradual uphill and long trail runs.
“I subscribe to the philosophy that long, slow distance leads to long, slow races,” he continues. “Running on roads and getting in that kind of speed puts something special in your legs.”
Read on for sample workouts to keep your speed up in the winter.