Get Faster – 8 week speed program for experienced runners

 In Frequently Asked Questions

Get Faster – 8 weeks Intermediate program for experienced runners

These are some things I’ve picked up along the way from training and coaching real people – many different types of people with different talents and challenges. Speed training is as much about the drills as it is learning intensity, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and staying mobile. You won’t get that from just dashing up hills with a stopwatch. Typically I do not advocate for cookie cutter ‘programs’ for my athletes. While there are certainly common elements for most, it’s generally best to start with an assessment. An assessment of form, core strength, mobility and cardiovascular health provides a platform. A baseline speed test provides a measuring tool. Since it’s not all that feasible to assess each and every one of you, I will make the following assumptions. If any of these are not true for you, email me and I will provide some drills and feedback tips to get you there so that this program will progress you safely. It is not in your best interest to proceed if any of the assumptions are false. If you are sore in a very bad way, take an extra rest day and pick up where you left off – the weeks might be off, but do the workouts in order. It makes a difference!

Assumption 1:

You can jog 10-15 minutes at a steady easy pace relatively pain free. Pain free especially in the feet, hips, knees, shins, calves and shoulders

Assumption 2: Jogging at a steady easy pace for 10-15 minutes does not put you in a state of drooling, red faced, foot dragging, blurry eyed state of being. If this is you we have a little bit of work to do before we hit this volume

Assumption 3: Actively working on good natural running form (midfoot strike, free arms, posture, quick turnover, gaining stride length at the back of your kick rather than reaching in front of you) Psst: here is a great resource for drills to work on your gait, turnover and footstrike!

Aspects to getting faster:

  1. Running economy (efficiency)
  2. Improving mobility (tight muscles are weak muscles) and balance
  3. Developing strength and muscular endurance
  4. Developing power (remember physics? Power = velocity over distance)
  5. Understanding effort/Mental performance training
  6. Recovery (less is more with speed training!!)
  7. Periodization – you wouldn’t do this all year. I like to tell my athletes that there are different windows in training to focus on one or two things. If you were training for 5k’s exclusively, I would not tell you to do this program over and over for 12 months of the year.
  8. Sometimes your warm-up and warm down last longer than the actual workout – and that’s a good thing!
  9. The best part about this is that you will be more fit overall AND faster. Go figure!



The Benchmark Run

Ditch the Garmin, heart rate monitor, pedometer, headphones and go bare. Map out a course near you that will not be interrupted by traffic lights or other obstacles (can be a few blocks, looped) that is approx. 2-3 KM’s. Warm-up as usual and time yourself on this run. Exertion – it should be race pace where you feel uncomfortable but slow enough that you a) can keep the pace for 2/3rds of the distance b) Won’t stop.

Run/time it – record it. Wait 2-3 minutes and repeat. Record that one too! Make note of the weather and anything else that may have influenced your run

Get Giggy (mobility and functional strength warm-up/workout)

This is an amazing compilation of exercises that get your muscles firing while working on balance and stability. If you can manage to do this before a couple of your speed workouts, you will be amazed how much better it feels and how much faster you recover. Note there are 3 videos in sequence. This is an essential part of the program. This is one of the best canned videos for running drills and exercises that I have ever come across. I will not attempt to re-invent the wheel!

Mobility WOD

Tune in with perceived exertion – know the physiological cues!

It’s all about effort – and learning how much is too much, not enough and just right. I like to use a scale from 1-10 (1 is essentially sleeping, so for practical sake, 5-10 where 5 would be a brisk walk and 10 you can’t see through the sweat, your heart is up by your teeth and you may or may not vomit). I know I didn’t paint an awesome picture of 10/10, but we will go there when you are ready – minus the vomiting of course. Remember it’s relative to YOU. I also suggest for this program to go by feel at least for a while – we tend to get stuck up on numbers and under reach on some days and over reach on others just to ‘make the numbers’. It might feel odd at first if you are used to tech-ing out, but I promise that knowing your body is an important lesson and it’s very freeing to keep it simple

Here is a cool little blurb on how perceived exertion relates to the different energy systems in the body. I wrote this for cycling, but the same can be applied to running. Intervals and plyometrics ONLY work if you can figure out the correct exertion levels – staying somewhat comfortable will mean you will always be right there. You have to push the envelope and bite off more than you think you can chew. People often think they are at their max, until they get to their max and then the lightbulb goes off – they were staying safe.



Scale Purpose Physiological Adaptations Race fitness
5 Regeneration and recovery Increase blood flow to muscles to flush out waste products and provide nutrients Promotes recovery and therefore training response
6 Establish base endurance Improves fat metabolism, gets muscles/tendons/ligaments/nerves used to cycling. Increases economy More efficient use of energy. Prepares body for harder training, works on technique/skill
7 Improve efficiency Improves the ability to use oxygen, produce power and increases efficiency Able to produce more power with the same level of effort, works on technique/skill
8 Improve sustainable power Improves carbohydrate metabolism, changes some fast twitch muscle to slow-twitch Improved sustainable power, good for all cycling events
8.5 Push threshold up Improves carbohydrate metabolism, develops lactate threshold, changes some fast twitch muscle to slow-twitch Improved sustainable race pace, useful during tapering or pre-competition periods: too much time in this zone can cause staleness
9 Sustain a high percentage of maximal aerobic power Develops cardiovascular system and VO2max, improves anaerobic energy production and speeds turnover of waste products Improved time trialling ability and resistance to short-term fatigue
9.5 Increase maximum power output
10 Increase sprint power output Increases maximum muscle power, develops neural control of pedalling at specific cadence

That’s the last of the tech-talk. Just know that when I say 4 x 30” at PRE 9.5 know that it’s all out for glory and we are working on power when we do that!!

Learn how to self-talk to practice being comfortable with being uncomfortable. The mental game in running is just as important as the physiological changes that are happening in your body. I argue that for some, even more so. We need to practice intensity so that our brain is re-assured we are not in danger of exploding.
Tips: in the lower PRE ranges it is often effective to focus on external cues, like what is going on around you, nature, passive thoughts. When we get up into the threshold 8.5 and up, it is often helpful to go either primal and focus on just breath, foot strike, repeat a mantra or just go blank. I often picture a bull charging (I’d like to think gazelle, but that is not me at all!!) Find your power animal.


The prediction run challenge – Practice running at PRE 8. How long do you think it will take you to run 5k at PRE8? Take a guess, write it down and go run (sans watch) – see how close you got! If you were way off, try again a couple days later. Do this once a month – gather some friends and have a contest!


The Strength and Power workouts – be sure to warm-up 5-10 mins before doing any of these

Strength Circuit PRE 8

2 mins skipping

12 runners lunges (each leg) with our without weights

12 cable or band rows (each side)

12 bird dogs (each side)

15 clam shells (each side)

20 marching glute bridges

10 fire hydrants/10 donkey kicks (each leg)

10 renegade rows (each side)


Power Circuit PRE 8.5

Alternate on stairs: 2 flights (up and down) – weighed walks/two by two sprints x 3

25 jump squats

20 jumping split lunges

20 thrusters

3x 30s resisted runs (bands)


Anaerobic cross training – EMOM (every minute on the minute perform these exercises as fast as you can to maximize rest time before the minute is up) Repeat each superset 6-8 times. Intensity (PRE) = 9

  1. 6 burpees (with jump) *can be elevated for a modification
    25 striders (just like jumping jacks but pretend you are in between 2 panes of glass shoulder width apart)
  2. 12 squat jumps with medi-ball (bring ball up over head while in the air)
    20 mountain climbers
  1. 5 push-ups
    8 Back-rows (with dumbells)
  2. 12 single arm kettle bell swings (you can use a dumbbell)
    5 push presses each arm


The run workouts (time:PRE:focus) ‘ = minutes, “ = seconds

Pyramid –

(5’:6: turnover), (1’:8: smooth acceleration)

(4’:6: turnover), (2’:8.5: stride length)

(3’: 7: turnover), (3’:8: smooth acceleration)
(2’: 6: turnover), (4’:8.5: stride length)
(1’: 6: turnover), (5’:8 smooth acceleration)
(30”: recovery), (30”:9.5: stride length and arm swing) x 3

Cool down – 3 mins walking

Fartlek – Pick some songs with rocking choruses and steady verses. Go someplace with variable terrain (like a trail or park). Jog the verses, sprint the choruses! Mix up intensities but keep verses 5-7.5 and chorus’ 8-9 PRE. Total run time should be 28-35 mins including a 10 min warmup. Be sure to sing, and have FUN with these.

Hills – Find hill. Run up it, jog or walk back down it. Repeat for time (20-25 mins including warm up). Mix it up each week between a long gradual one and a shorter steep one. PRE on long hill: 8.5 PRE on short 9.5, 5 or 6 down

Track – 5 laps easy, 8-10 gradual accelerations along long edge (start at PRE 7- go to 8.5 by end), walk or slow jog on bends. 3 x 250 m @8.5, 1 x 100m @9.5 recover. 4 x 500m at 8.0 cool down. No track? Use a neighborhood block. It’ll do!

Long run – PRE 6-7.5 for 35-40 mins

Active Recovery – PRE 6-7 for 25-30 mins – can be walking if you are too sore

Rest Day/Yoga – normal day without running or strength training. Light activities, swimming, yoga are ok. Even an easy cycle is fine. Foam roll all you want!



Putting it all together: The Program (suggested)
Highlighted day is the emphasis for the week – those get your best efforts

Week 0: Baseline test and prediction run. Log your results!!

Week 1:

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Mobility WOD Pyramid Strength x2 Active recovery Fartlek   Power x2/Active Recovery


Week 2 – splits can be done am/pm or back to back

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Mobility WOD/Track Active Recovery Long run Hills/Mobility WOD   Power x 2 Pyramid


Week 3

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Hills Fartlek/Mobility WOD Active Recovery Track Yoga/Strength x 2 Long Run  




Week 4 – Repeat week 1 (de-train and recover week) + let the good stuff soak in!

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Mobility WOD Pyramid Strength x3 Active recovery Fartlek   Power x2/Active Recovery


Week 5

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Long Run + Mobility WOD Anaerobic Cross-Training   Active Recovery + Pyramid   Power x 3  Active Recovery



Week 6

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Long run + Strength x3 Hills Active Recovery Long run Hills + Mobility WOD   Anaerobic Cross-Training


Week 7

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Power x 3   Fartlek Track   Fartlek + Strength x 2 Pyramid


Week 8

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Pyramid Mobility WOD + long run   Power x3Active Recovery Rest Day Active Recovery Pyramid


Week 9

Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  Active Recovery Re-Test and compare         


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