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Aug 18, 2018 - 12:29 AM  

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RunCoach FAQs (frequently-asked questions)

Category: Main -> Training



How can I run faster?

This question is extremely common. The short answer is that to race faster you need to train faster. The long answer is that it depends on you current abilities and the goal distance you are training for.

If you have subscribed to the newsletters then this topic is covered in some detail in the first few editions. One of the key ways of improving speed is interval training. This involves repeated short bursts of faster running followed by rest. Your body gradually adapts to the faster running and your overall performance increases.

Other factors include efficiency and form, endurance, stength and specificity.

Subscribe to the newsletters for more detail.

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I have had a break from training. How should I start again?

The normal rule of thumb is that for each week you take completely off you need a week to get back to where you were. This is only a general rule and we all have a base level of activity but a long break will need some time to get back to where you were.

Also 2 fast runs a week is the bare minimum to maintain.

The best way to get back to form is slowly. Trying to gain speed and stamina too quickly can lead to injury. You should also try to mix in some faster running as you try and gain form.

RunCoach can design a program for you but you need to let it know your current ability in the PB section. Be sure to include at least one speed session (if it hasn't already included one) when you design your program.

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What treadmill grade best reflects oudoor running?

The best grade is 1%. Here is an except from a scientific study that looks at the issue

"A 1 percent treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running" by Jones, A. M. and Doust, J. H.

Journal of Sports Sciences (JSS), 14(4), 1996


When running indoors on a treadmill, the lack of air resistance results in a lower energy cost compared with running outdoors at the same velocity. A slight incline of the treadmill gradient can be used to increase the energy cost in compensation. The aim of this study was to determine the treadmill gradient that most accurately reflects the energy cost of outdoor running. Nine trained male runners, thoroughly habituated to treadmill running, ran for 6 min at six different velocities (2.92, 3.33, 3.75, 4.17, 4.58 and 5.0 m s-1) with 6 min recovery between runs. This routine was repeated six times, five times on a treadmill set at different grades (0 percent, 0 percent, 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent) and once outdoors along a level road. Duplicate collections of expired air were taken during the final 2 min of each run to determine oxygen consumption. The repeatability of the methodology was confirmed by high correlations (r = 0.99) and non-significant differences between the duplicate expired air collections and between the repeated runs at 0 percent grade. The relationship between oxygen uptake (VO2) and velocity for each grade was highly linear (r greater than 0.99). At the two lowest velocities, VO2 during road running was not significantly different from treadmill running at 0 percent or 1 percent grade, but was significantly less than 2 percent and 3 percent grade. For 3.75 m s-1, the VO2 during road running was significantly different from treadmill running at 0 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent grades but not from 1 percent grade. For 4.17 and 4.58 m s-1, the VO2 during road running was not significantly different from that at 1 percent or 2 percent grade but was significantly greater than 0 percent grade and significantly less than 3 percent grade. At 5.0 m s-1, the VO2 for road running fell between the VO2 value for 1 percent and 2 percent grade treadmill running but was not significantly different from any of the treadmill grade conditions. This study demonstrates equality of the energetic cost of treadmill and outdoor running with the use of a 1 percent treadmill grade over a duration of approximates 5 min and at velocities between 2.92 and 5.0 m s-1.

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What is the ammonia smell after vigorous exercise?

Ammonia is produced when you use protein rather than carbohydrates or fats to produce energy. The use of protein occurs primarily when you are in a glycogen depleted state and can be as high as 10-15% of energy production.

Glycogen depletion occurs after days of intense exersize without adequate replenishment of internal glycogen stores or over a single exersize bout which lasts for a considerable period of time (eg a marathon).

The primary release mechanism for the amonia is as follows:

amino acids -> deamination -> ammonia -> urea -> urine

This means that it would not normally be excreted from sweat but it is possible.

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I am a linebacker and want to run the 40 yard dash faster.

This is a very common question however we focus mainly on distance running so can't give specific advice in this area.

The general principles however are the same. You need to specifically focus on this area in training and also you need to run faster for shorter distances. Finally explosive strength and power are important over this short distance.

To help more here are a couple of websites specifically focussed on this area

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Where can I get my own personal speed training plan.

RunCoach provides customised individual training plans. These are mainly targeted at distance events (3k - 2 mile upwards). To obtain your plan you need to download RunCoach from the Downloads section. Once downloaded and installed you tell it a little about yourself and your goals and it will then generate your plan. It is fuly functional for 30days after which you have to pay $28 to keep using it.

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How can I improve my time on a 1.5 mile run?

The 1.5 mile run is a similar distance to a 3k track event however is often used for testing and evaluation purposes. If you are an experienced runner then any 3k track program would be suitable. An example can be found here

More often this question is from a novice who wants to pass a certain time to qualify for job related criteria. In these situations some basic guidelines will help. Signing up for the newsletter or reading the training tips will provide much of this information.

Specifically, to run faster you need to train faster. Shorter bursts of faster running will translate into faster running for the 1.5 mile event. Don't try and run the same speed and distance each day vary your training runs. Run some days longer and slower, whilst others shorter and faster. Use intervals (repeated short fast runs with rest in between) and gradually increase the number of repeats and decrease the rest. Weight training and explosive strength training will also help to reach your goal.

Specific training plans are really up to the individual but the basic guidance is to increase distance first then start improving speed.

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I am a beginner. How do I start running?

If you haven't run very much before then the best way to start running is to walk! Then when you feel comfortable with that, start to include jogging (slow running) in your program. Jog, walk. Jog, walk. Jog, walk. After a while, you'll be able to jog all the time, both longer and faster. Don't be tempted to run fast or run far early on.

A diary (electronic or paper) can help with the initial program by tracking the time and distance you are covering. Using the diary to enter your details will help to motivate you to keep it up. Also record your weight so you can see improvements.

The first basic hurdle is the 30 minute barrier. With a careful program you can be running for this time in about a month. Start by trying to walk for 30 mins. Use the out and back method so you don't get caught to far from home. When you can walk for that distance the next step is to start to include walk/jog sessions. Always start with at least a 5 minute walk to warm-up and finish with a 5 minute walk to cool down. Between these times try and gradually build to 30 minutes of walk/jog. Start with a 30 secs/30 secs split and gradually increase the running time up to 5 minutes followed by 5 minutes of walking. Then start gradually decreasing the walk time until you can run for the whole 30 minutes.

Remember to take it easy as everybody is different. Listen to your body and don't be afraid to take a day or two off from your routine.

Once you can run continuously for 30mins then you are ready to start adding some variety. Try varying the distance, time, pace and route you are running to keep it interesting.

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What is your favorite interval(speed) session?

  • Short repeats - 30s-2min, with a break/jog between
  • Long repeats - 3-10min, with a break/jog between
  • Pyramid - start short, build long end short
  • Staircase - either short to long or long to short
  • Fartlek - I vary times I run fast on how I feel
  • Intervals!? - running fast is for races
  • What are intervals?
  • I have trouble running much less going fast!
  • Other type of speed session

[ Results | Polls ]

Votes: 47


"I meant to let you know, since using your amazing program religiously. I have now run 88min for a half (2 min PB), 3:13 for a marathon (17 min PB) 40:40 for 10k (2 min PB)"  DT - South Africa

"My girlfriend and I are both really benefiting from using RunCoach -- I'm running consistently for the first time in many years, and the program's been great." EO - Boston, MA

"you are doing a great service for coaches and athletes, I admire your foresight and knowledge. My top marathoner is going to Manchester, I will be with him thanks to ASA. Medal I hope. Best 10km this week 28.12"  DS - South Africa

"I love your software! I have tried other programs and none matches up to RunCoach." JF - Oak Park, IL

"Thanks for the great program." MC - Needham, MA

"I am using RunCoach now for a couple of years although I am not racing but at least it helped improve fitness and lose those kilos overweight I had. I'll stick to your RunCoach forever." AT - Luxembourg

"I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying RunCoach this running season. .... Thanks again. The latest update is suburb and running smoothly... like me!" JM - Canada

"just a short thank you for your very good programme, with its help I just finished my third marathon. This time I have really improved and reached 3h40m. I can assure you that your plan is a fantastic tool and it gets you rolling. " DB - Czech Republic

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