My last post began to lay the foundation for running faster. Increasing frequency is the first step for most triathletes. The next step is to increase your volume while maintaining your new, higher frequency.
In the last post, we were increasing your frequency from 3-4 times per week up to five times per week. Before you follow the advice in this post you will need to give yourself 3-4 weeks at your higher frequency. If you have struggled with the increase in frequency or have not been consistent you are not ready to increase the workload. Give yourself at least two additional weeks without struggling and/or without missing a run before stepping up your game. If the previous three weeks have gone well then you should be ready for the next step.
You once again need to consider your race goals and your current fitness level. Since this is a long term process, it may be best to look forward and consider your long term race goals more heavily then your short term race goals. In endurance sports there is no short term solution. The next step involves making choices. You need to choose two runs based upon your goals.
The runs you choose can be any two runs. If you mainly focus on long course triathlon you might choose two of your new runs. If you race short course you may choose your long run and one other run. The days can be back to back or spread out in the week. The choice is yours. Whichever two runs you choose, do not vary this from week to week. Make the choice and stick with it.
You are going to add another 15-20 minutes to your total weekly running time. Split that time up equally between the two runs you have chosen. Run A gets 10 minutes additional time as does Run B. It’s that easy. You are not running faster during these runs, you are running longer. We are now increasing your volume by increasing the duration of some of your runs. In the first part of this series we increased your volume by increasing your frequency or the number of times you ran. Now your volume will increase by increasing the total amount of time you spend running over the course of your runs.
If you are concerned about which runs would be most beneficial to you, there are no wrong choices at this stage. Just choose two runs and divide the 15-20 minutes up equally between them. You will stick to this new routine for another 3-4 weeks before making any changes to your running.
If we go back to our hypothetical 8:00 minute per mile guy, he originally added in two runs per week for an increase of 30 minutes per week. He is now adding in another 20 minutes of running per week. This increases his workload by another 2.25 miles. Now he is running an extra 10k per week over his starting baseline. In the example I laid out in the first post of this series, our hypothetical runner was running about 17mpw to start. Now 3-4 weeks later he is running about 23mpw. That’s roughly a marathon a month more running all at a very low recovery cost. At the end of a year it’s just under 280 more miles of running or about 16 extra weeks of running in the year. In this example it would have taken you 16 months to do what you will now do in 12.
The next post in this series will take you through the fork in the road choices that you will soon be running into. I’ll try to give you a framework to help you choose a path to run along.