I love to run, and one of my favorite reasons to run is to be outside in nature, running freely for the joy and freedom of it. But, I also love to run hard and have goals and try to run faster--this has been especially fun when I was running in India and didn't often just run around freely and for the beauty of nature and being out in clean air. It was fun for me to run and train for three different races with goals and a plan for running. I loved the challenge for those 3 races, and it was fun to have a plan that pushed me but gave me a variety so I didn't get bored! If any of you would like to find a running plan or if you would like to play around with increasing your speed or pace, I recommend the book Run Less, Run Faster.
It is a great book that will help all kinds of runners. It gives you a plan and schedule for running only 3 days a week. I love this because even though I enjoy running, I do not like to run everyday. I like to incorporate strength work outs, cross training, stretching and flexibility, and other options even if I am training for a race.
Day 1 is a day of track repeats--you do not need a track for this. I used my frontage road, but I was able to have certain distances marked out for me and ran them as track repeats. You run quite fast for this. You are working on speed here. There are rest intervals, but it's basically a lot of sprinting with breaks in between.
Day 2 is a tempo run where you run some miles faster and others slower. This pushes your speed threshold while also working on endurance at certain paces. This was always a hard workout for me! But, I loved the challenge.
Day 3 is an endurance run, where you actually lower your speed and work on endurance--putting in the time and long distance. This is where you get the ability to run for a long time.
All three of the days have different purposes, but when you put them together on race day, you are able to increase your speed, your endurance, and your threshold levels. It guides you to figure out your pace and how you can increase your pace in a smart way for your running ability.
This book also give you great stretches to do as a runner, helps you understand even nutritional needs, guides you in strength training and cross training, and more. It is a wealth of all kinds of information. It includes pacing charts for all of the types of runs, and a lot of Q&A. If you are a runner--check it out! I think you will enjoy it a lot.
I personally will not spend most of my running days using this book. I want to say again that the reasons I enjoy running so much are primarily the freedom I feel of just putting on tennis shoes and going, being out alone in nature, and exploring different places. But, I sure did enjoy the challenge for a few short seasons. For me, this is not something I desire to keep up with or incorporate into my normal life. It is good for a nice challenge, so if you're looking for a challenge, go for it. But also make sure that the challenge stays a challenge and doesn't become an unhealthy yoke or striving that takes away the love of running.