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The Easiest Way to Run Faster – Running Economy

In today’s video I’m discussing the easiest way to run faster – developing your running economy.

Today we’re going to talk about running economy. What is it and why is it important?

Major Gains in Your Running

This is where you can make major gains in your running. It’s well documented that people think they run slow, but they’re over-training – they don’t follow heartrate because they want to stick to a pace. But they don’t need to. Developing good running economy is important because it is part of your base training. This is where you can become more efficient and improve. So, how do you do this and what kind of gains can you expect?

Consistency and Efficiency

I have talked in a previous video about VO2 Max. You can improve your VO2 Max by 10-15% but it has been proved that you can get more gains from improving your running economy. You can do this by running at a slower pace in a well-structured plan. What’s not to like? If you can run slower and get faster, why not? You’re not pushing your body therefore you’re much less likely to get injured. We all know consistent training is very important and running economy work allows you to have this consistency because it keeps you injury-free and it also allows your body to recover a lot quicker than if you were pounding all your sessions each week.

It is important that you do interval sessions too, but I would say that 3/4 of your training a week should be at a lower intensity. Every year, once I’ve had a break [after key races] I come back and I build it up slowly, keeping it all very very easy. I start by running 10 minute miles and then bring that up slowly over the course of a few weeks. Then I start running by heart rate – only in zone two though -so I’m not even in zone two when I start training back after the break. I find it gives me a proper recovery and I don’t get injured and feel refreshed. Not only does running economy make you improve, it makes you more efficient, makes you faster, you recover and you, shouldn’t get injured

Improve Your Running Economy = Improve Your Running

[3:13] Every year you should focus on improving something in your running. Winter is often a perfect time (though it’s up to you!). Take time to scale back and work on being more efficient.

For example:

  • easy longer runs  – stick to zone two and build up the running over a 6 week period. Start with a 60 minute run and add 9 minutes on to it each week for 3 weeks, then have a recovery week and carry on. I used to start with 90 minutes and gradually bring that up to 1 hr 57  in total. I’d also have another longish run which would be an hour but go up to about 1 hr 18 minutes – climbing by 6 minutes a week. That was a big bulk of my training. I’d do an interval session as well and then the rest would be very easy runs.
[ 5:03] For all my training programmes I would do my longest run around the track – round and round and round. I’d see what distance I finished each time – in the end I covered nearly 18 miles at a low heartrate. Admittedly the track is faster, but I was really happy with that distance and got PB’s after that year. I found that it wasn’t stressing my body and worked well for me.

[5:32] I will always get athletes I coach running slow a lot of the time and so does my coach Mark Shepherd. That’s because you can make more gains by working on your running economy that way and becoming more efficient.

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Yiannis Christodoulou
Yiannis Christodoulou
European and National Aquathlon age group champion.

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