3 Ways To Add Speed To Aerobic Training

Hill sprints help build power, speed and endurance, and are a good complement to aerobic training. Photo: Chad Riley

Aerobic training is boring, so use these tips to get some speed into your workouts.

Aerobic development is the primary avenue to long-term success in distance running. This reality has been proven through research and confirmed time and again by elite athletes and the best distances coaches in the world, even as early as the 1960s.

Why is developing your aerobic system so important to running performance?

Most importantly, for races 5K and longer, 90 percent or more of the energy required comes from the aerobic system. However, aerobic training also elicits some critical physiological adaptations.

First, aerobic training sparks your body to create more capillaries, which are the small blood vessels that surround muscle fibers and help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissues. Second, aerobic training creates more and denser mitochondria, which break down nutrients into usable energy. Third, the number of myoglobin in the muscle fibers is increased, which help release oxygen to the mitochondria.

Simply speaking, aerobic development allows you to more efficiently deliver oxygen and energy to your muscles, thus allowing you to run significantly faster.

Unfortunately, developing your aerobic system isn’t exactly exciting. Aerobic training consists mainly of slow, easy running at around 65 percent of 5k pace, or about 65 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. To mix it up, you can add a few steady state runs, performed just as your aerobic threshold, but that’s about it. Moreover, even though aerobic training is critical to long-term development, running nothing but slow, easy miles means you ignore other systems, like your speed.

So, how can you stay focused on aerobic development while staying motivated about training and maintain your speed and turnover? Sneak it into your training! In this article, I’ll show you some sneaky ways you can add speed to your plan while still keeping your training focused on the long-term.

RELATED: Is Training Making You Insane?

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