This is a new section on my blog where I answer questions people ask me. If you have any questions for future Ask Kikay Runner entries, contact me!
“Hi Ms. Noelle. I’ve always been in awe of how fast you run. I’m female, 25 years old and just started running July of last year with several 5K races until I moved to 10K to up the ante. I’ve been doing five 10K races already and I still average 1:23 on my official results. How do I improve my speed? I only stand 5’0 and I know that it isn’t the only reason but does height affect one’s speed? I can’t seem to last long when I go faster than a 7:15 pace. I always feel my lungs would burst. Is there a proper breathing technique so I won’t go running *sorry for the pun* out of breath? Thanks.”
Hi Whye! Sorry it took so long to get back to you on your questions. Speed is affected by genetics (which include height and muscle make-up) and training. Obviously we can’t do anything about our genes, which make some of us taller or shorter than others, or endow us with more or less muscle fibers. However, it’s not what you’re born with that can limit how fast you can go; it’s what you do with it that counts. The Japanese aren’t among the tallest people in the world, but they’ve produced a number of Olympic medalists in the marathon.
To increase speed, a runner must incorporate speedwork into their training. According to Runner’s World UK, speedwork makes you faster, fitter, increases your joints’ range of movement, and ultimately helps you run faster for longer. Check out this Runner’s World UK article on speedwork drills and how to do them. The recommendation for beginners is one speed session every seven to 10 days.
Here are some speedwork types I usually do:
- Intervals — short hard runs at sprint pace, with recovery periods in between. These are best done on measured courses, like track ovals (400 meters), or half the BHS block (approximately 600 meters). According to the Runner’s World article, “Running at harder than race pace for short periods not only improves speed, but also allows you to work on your running form. When you’re pushing hard, it’s important to concentrate on things like arm and hand motion, posture and stride length.”
- Hill Repeats — running up a hill (I like McKinley Hill for this) at a pace at which I can’t talk, then jogging back down to recover. Repeat.
Thanks for sending in your question, Whye! Hope to see you conquering 10Ks in less than 1 hour soon.