Monday, 29 October 2012


Over the past few months I've been working hard to build my form, improve my muscles and bone density, and generally develop my barefoot and minimalist running skills.  But as is the peril of many runners across the globe, there's always that need to do a little bit more - to improve on what's already there.

So now I want to start improving my speed.  I suppose I feel that if I don't push this aspect, I'll never improve my distance or my overall stamina, because I'm a great believer in the notion that if I'm concentrating on one particular element of my running, a lot of other elements improve without me noticing.  So far, I've concentrated on technique and I'm hoping that if I now concentrate on speed, the technique stuff will just fall into place without me thinking about it.

Today I went out - just for a short 2 miles as time was limited - and did some Fartlek work - running slowly followed by bursts of speed.  I wore my Garmin, and hit the lap button at every changeover, but I didn't set a goal pace, I just ran hard for 150 - 250 metres, then ran slow until I'd got my breath back for the next burst.

When I first took up running (shod), I followed pretty much the same pattern. Once I felt I'd got to grips with getting out the house and running for 3 miles or so without dying, I started to build in a variety of sessions - Fartleks, hill work, speed work and tempo runs.  It was only at that point that my running really improved.  Switching to barefoot and minimalist running took me back to those early running days, and now I've grasped the basics, I feel the need to do a bit more.

How did I get on?  Overall, I hit an average pace of 8.56 minute miles.  This is great because it means I should be able to hit my previous shod distance PBs with a bit of training.  In the short speedier bursts I managed to hit speeds of 8.05 minute miles - 8.30 minute miles.  Granted, these were really short distances, but the fact that my legs will move this quickly is great - it's something I've wondered about as my cadence has increased dramatically and I wasn't sure I'd be able to move my legs fast enough to get the speed.

What I need to do now is increase the speedy sections to up to 0.5 miles, so I think perhaps it's time to plug some training plans into my Garmin and push myself properly.  Doing this completely barefoot will need to wait until warmer days, I think winter training will be minimalist, with barefoot easy runs thrown in for good measure, and barefoot training will be a Spring challenge.

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