The psychology of speed training.....
Runners who set goals to run faster need to do speed training. This is obvious. However, many runners focus their
effort in training on running further rather than running faster.
The goal for the session is speed is to run fast
You need to run fast. You might want to run fast for a long distance, but you still need to run fast. If you cant run 400m in 90 secs, 200m in 45 or 100m in 22, you wont be
able to run a 6 minute mile.
Speed sessions are usually interval sessions. You can break down the length of each repetition to be as short as you like. You can have long recovery periods.
Endurance runners tend to be have short recoveries. Sprinters tend to have short repetitions and a long period of time between repetitions. I trained with a group of sprinters.
What this experience showed me was athletes in different sport do things their own way. If I suggested such a session to a group of endurance athletes they would struggle
with the idea of having any sort of extended recovery period.
What I noticed during each 400m was just how hard I could go. The barriers for running faster were the fact that my legs felt tired. With the extended recovery, I found I sped
up over the repetition. I learned to begin to unload everything into each repetition. This is the principle of learning to run faster - you need to structure the session so that
speed is the primary goal.
Set the goal for each session; I aim to run this fast......
To protect the goal, set an if-then plan. If my speed reduces in a rep and I gave it 100%, then I will lengthen the recovery period (you will have to experiment with the length of
reps, length of recovery time but what you want is to be able to run fast).
- Focus on technique
- Use running drills and conduct imagery during drills
- earn to expect to feel the strain of maximal effort - learn to welcome it as signal that you are putting in effort.
With running faster, you are looking at increasing the stride rate and stride length. Imagine you
are running 400m repetitions and see yourself running smoothly, with a long stride and fast turn
over. Notice the sensations of effort that accompany running fast and say to yourself "this is how
it should feel"
What to do?
a) Baseline assessment
b) Learn the intervention; it could be goal-setting, self-talk, if-then planning, imagery or a different intervention. Spend some time practising. Its possible that performance will get
worse when learning how to use psychological; its not dissimilar to learning to do two things at once.
c) Re-test whether you have improved.
d) Reflect on whether the intervention worked or not? Was it your beliefs that made it work?