The recent edition of Runner’s World discussed a speed boosting work out called “progression training”. While it’s not exactly the same thing as my patented “Limbo” training, it is close enough to launch an unwarranted lawsuit asking for ridiculous seven figure damages. That’s how I roll. Another of my personal mottos: “What’s a week without an overblown, irrational lawsuit.”
Progression training is described, by McMillan, as “begin running at a slow, easy pace but finish at a fast pace.”
Limbo running, a F.M.S. created training technique, is similar in that you start out at an easier pace and finish at a quicker pace. However, in order to be a successful Limbo run, each mile (or whatever equally incremental distance you desire), gets progressively faster. It’s not just measuring the beginning and end points but specific milestones along the way. For me, I choose a nice comfortable loosening mile – not too slow but not quite to my “comfortably hard” pace either – and then try to shave a few seconds off each mile (i.e. getting under the limbo bar set by the previous mile) until I finish with my quickest mile at a predetermined target pace.
If I’m doing a 5 mile Limbo run and my “comfortably hard” pace at this distance is 7:00 minute miles, I might start my first mile at around 7:05-7:10 to loosen up and then start subtracting seconds each mile (second mile 6:55, third mile 6:50, etc.) until my 5th and final mile is around 6:35. That’s the plan anyhow. Unfortunately, lately my third or fourth miles have actually gone back UP in time blowing my Limbo.
It’s a challenge to keep the time going DOWN as the miles go UP. It’s also my favorite type of training run. It mixes things up and keeps me focused on speed as I get tired. Plus, I look cool choking for air as I whiz past my neighbors on their nightly stroll spraying them with wicked sweat from one of my race shirts covering my flailing arms. It’s a real attention grabber.
The challenge, as mentioned, is to actually increase speed as you get tired. Also, to maintain some pacing discipline. If your first mile is 7:05 and your next mile is 6:00, well, your next three miles need to keep getting faster. Is it gonna happen? For me, no. So, you better have a good read on your pacing. Of course, it helps tremendously if you are already baptized in the Church of Garmin (praise be with you).*
I choose to tackle my Limbo runs by combining them with the accepted industry standard fartlek style. I’ll alternate a comfortably hard pace with mashing the accelerator back and forth at least once during each mile. If any of you don’t use fartlek style runs, you should. They’re wonderful for building speed and confidence (just don’t get caught with your mouth open during one of ‘em. Get it? Get it?) Plus, its also fun to say “fartlek” and giggle like a school kid.
The beauty of the fartlek, besides its awesomely disgusting sounding name, is that, when you pull out of a fart lick, er, fartlek, you find yourself resuming a speed that is actually faster than what you were probably doing going in. You may not even perceive it at first. But Garmin don’t lie (praise be with you).** Try it. Do a few fartleks and notice how your resumed comfortable pace is suddenly faster than you intended!
An easy way to understand this is through an obvious and familiar example to all. When you rob an orphanage, you tend to accelerate quickly from the scene – way above the posted speed limit. Then, realizing you are going fast and ought to slow down before drawing attention from the local fuzz, you pull back your speed. Try as you might, you don’t end up back under the speed limit. Your adrenaline is surging(you just robbed the orphanage, right!?) so you are still going a bit faster than planned. Next time you steal money from innocent children, notice this effect in action.
A few folks have asked what my “limbo” runs mean so I thought I’d take the time to explain it. Also, I’ve been reading several accounts lately of different speed training various runners have been doing to improve their overall speed. Since I’m self indulgent, I thought I’d go ahead and pretend like you wanted to know about my favorite form of speed training.
Whatever you do, if you want to increase your speed, you have to push yourself. You have to push your lactate threshold. The only way to BE faster is to TRAIN faster. There’s many plans out there. Some of them have merit. But, unlike the Limbo run, none of them have received the F.M.S. stamp of approval.
* And also with you.
** And also with you.
No Limbo run last night. Just the standard 800's. I'm trying to ramp up some speed for a couple of July 5k's I have planned.
4 x 800 (with 400 meter cool downs in between). 800 laps of:
Next week: 5 x 800 @ 2:50 pace.