February 18


How to Run Faster in Hard Week

By Conor Graham

February 18, 2015

beginners running, Cheltenham, Cheltenham Running, Periodisation, Progressing your Running, Running, Running Faster

Most of us have no problem working hard when we run. The question is whether we can get maximal benefits from doing so.

In our previous post, “How to Train for Non-Stop Improvements in your Running” we discussed the importance of treating each week with a certain outcome in mind. You need to know whether you’re in an easy, moderate or hard week as opposed treating every run based on how you feel during the first 10 minutes.

Get your moderate weeks right and you’ll be able to achieve big things in your hard weeks. You’ll learn what you’re capable of and find yourself setting personal bests in training as well as competition.

Are you ready for a hard week?

A true hard week should enable you to run faster and or further than in the previous month of training. If your previous week has left you feeling de-motivated and run-down then chances are you’re going to struggle to achieve a quality hard week of training.

A hard week can follow an easy week but most commonly follows a build up of easy and moderate weeks.

How Hard is Hard?

Given that you want to be performing 3 or sometimes 4 challenging runs in 7 days, you still wouldn’t want to be running each of these at max unless you’ve been training consistently for months without injury or illness.

Most of us should be aiming to accomplish 3 hard runs where we push to about a 9 out of 10. This means in the final 5 minutes you could speed up to the finish, but choose not to.

Pacing your Runs

As in any run your aim is to negative split, where you’ll perform the second half slightly faster than the first. In order for this to happen you cannot afford to let yourself get carried away as knowing how fast you should run for the distance, terrain, wind and temperature can be tough.

Ideally you have a slightly conservative average speed in mind and can maintain that for the first half before increasing it slightly towards the final 10 minutes when you know you’re not going to lose your running technique.

The CRC Running Programmes use a system which provides personalised speeds based on:

  • a recent time trial result
  • training distances
  • and desired intensity.

This way every training run speed can be calculated and prescribed for any given training run.

Know Your Speeds

Getting your average speed wrong by just 0.1kph (0.0625mph) can result in a run going horribly wrong by the final 5-minutes so it’s important to know how fast you’re running. GPS watches provide the best tool for monitoring your running speeds outside and can be purchased from just £90. Aim to finish your runs with the planned average speed to provide the optimum workout.

Surviving a Hard Week

Getting through a good Hard Week should be an achievable challenge. Everyday stress levels, nutrition, sleep and injury prevention strategies must all be optimised to help your body come through unscathed. Get it right and the next week’s easy runs will feel like a treat you’ve earned.

You should finish it feeling like you’ve been through the ringer but come out on top!

Have you ever given yourself a hard week as described above?

We’d love to hear about any hard weeks which didn’t go so well and look forward to hearing about how you’ve used the info here to get better results from your running.


Conor Graham

About the author

Conor is the Head Coach and Founder of Cheltenham Running and Walking Club.

His experience as a Strength & Conditioning Coach, Triathlete and Personal Trainer ensure members are educated on best practice in regards to training progression while also nurtured through the early stages of fitness development.

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