The Importance of Speed for Distance Runners

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Long distance running involves more than just maintaining stamina, and no one knows this better than the three-time national champ Florida State Seminoles. To stay ahead of the pack at a fast, fluid pace, the Seminoles not only train distance, they train speed too.  "Speed work is important for our distance athletes," says Bob Braman, the Seminoles' head men's track coach. "I always say that speed work's not something you put in the front drawer of your desk, [to be] pulled out when you need it at the end of the season."

For distance runners, Braman says continually developing speed is a must, and improving it requires more than just running from Point A to Point B.

"We look at how you can run fast efficiently," Braman says. That is, "running not so much at 100 percent, but how long [you are] going to run at 90 percent through an extended period of time."

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Long distance running involves more than just maintaining stamina, and no one knows this better than the three-time national champ Florida State Seminoles. To stay ahead of the pack at a fast, fluid pace, the Seminoles not only train distance, they train speed too. 
"Speed work is important for our distance athletes," says Bob Braman, the Seminoles' head men's track coach. "I always say that speed work's not something you put in the front drawer of your desk, [to be] pulled out when you need it at the end of the season."

For distance runners, Braman says continually developing speed is a must, and improving it requires more than just running from Point A to Point B.

"We look at how you can run fast efficiently," Braman says. That is, "running not so much at 100 percent, but how long [you are] going to run at 90 percent through an extended period of time."

The Seminoles incorporate light speed work—in the form of 200- and 300-meter repeats on the grass at 80 to 90 percent effort—at least one day a week year-round. This type of training allows them to spend less energy while running, which helps improve stride frequency. Ultimately it translates to more efficient running, and that's beneficial when you want to leave your competition in the dust.


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