After you have made it through the base building section of your training it is important to challenge yourself by working a bit on your speed (don’t forget to still stick to the Easy/Hard Principle though). I have talked before about adding in speed work through tempo runs, intervals, and fartleks so today we are going to talk about why building in fast finishes can improve your running. Adding fast finishes to your training plan can help teach your body to push hard on tired legs at the end of your run. This is beneficial because they can help keep you from crashing or hitting the wall late in a run. Also, fast finishes can help teach your body how to pick it up at the end in order to negative split your runs and races (a negative split is when you run the last half of a race or run quicker than the first half).
What might building in fast finishes look like in my plan?
Here is an example of how I built fast finishes into my training plan last summer in order to prepare for my fall half marathons. Below is part of a 4 week training cycle so you can see how I implemented these fast finishes.
I added my fast finishes on to my long runs to really challenge my legs when I was tired. Having to run faster on tired legs built up not only mental strength, but also physical strength that helped me to beat the bonk and finish strong at my half marathons.
Week 1 – Intro Fast Finish –
0.5 mile warm up walk/slow jog, dynamic stretches, 10 mile run at easy long run pace – last mile pick it up to finish faster than you ran the previous miles, 0.5 mile cool down walk, stretching
Week 2 – On –
0.5 mile warm up walk/slow jog, dynamic stretches, 11 mile run at easy long run pace – pick up the speed in mile 10, then push your speed even more in mile 11, 0.5 mile cool down walk, stretching
Week 3 – Peak –
0.5 mile warm up walk/slow jog, dynamic stretches, 12 mile run at easy long run pace – pick up the speed in mile 10, then push your speed even more in mile 11, in mile 12 give it your all as though you were racing to the finish, 0.5 mile cool down walk, stretching
Week 4 – Cut Back –
0.5 mile warm up walk/slow jog, dynamic stretches, 6 mile run at easy long run pace, 0.5 mile cool down walk, stretching
*Note – These were not my first long runs. I made sure I was well out of the base building phase before I started building in fast finishes.
After the four week cycle where I introduced fast finishes during the next cycle four week cycle I stuck to building in a 3 mile fast finish at the end of all my long runs, but to make it a bit more challenging I set time goals. Such as, run mile 10 twenty seconds faster than the previous mile, then mile 11 another twenty seconds faster, and then the final mile another twenty seconds faster. Depending on how you are doing with the negative splits you could try to do each one 30 seconds faster or maybe even 40 seconds faster if your body is feeling up for the challenge.
What are the benefits of building in fast finishes? –
By building in fast finishes you are teaching your legs to push at the end of a run when they are the most tired. This helps your body learn to run hard on exhausted legs which has many benefits. First, it prevents the dreaded late race crash and burn (AKA – the bonk, or hitting the wall). Also, it helps you push hard towards the finish line. On top of that, it teaches you to run a race that focuses on negative splits instead of going out too quickly (and then paying the price and fading).
In addition to all the physical benefits practicing fast finishes give you, there are also excellent mental benefits to training with fast finishes built into your runs. If you know that you are capable of pushing through pain, going faster, and recruiting that extra bit and not giving up at the end you will be able to pull on that experience during your runs and races when things get tough. And we all know that many times the mental strength we build is just as important as the physical.
Let me know –
Do you do any type of speed work?
Do you practice fast finishes or negative splitting runs?
Feel like this is a lot to take in? You can always hire a professional running coach (make sure you pick someone who is certified) as they will set up your plan for you taking all these factors into account. You can visit my run coaching services page to learn more about coaching.