Running: upping the pace

I have recently been doing some training, mostly running and other cardiovascular work, and yes it is partly because of the need to get the fitness test done and dusted. At the height of my fitness, about eight and a bit years ago, I could do a mile and a half run in just over ten minutes, now I seem to be just (10-12 seconds) outside the (current) pass standard. OK I get an extra 26 seconds next week as I turn 35 (which would have mean three passing today and my previous attempts this year), but....

When I was achieving times of under 10.30 I also used to not only practise running a mile and a half but I regularly ran a longer distance, about 3.4 miles. I used to be able to do this in just over thirty or so minutes, and still can, so why have I lost the speed over the shorter distance?

Apart from being older and fatter, there is another difference that I have only just thought of - back then I was training for another physical test that involved lots of fast sprints (no not the bleep test).

Chatting to an instructor today, he advised me to concentrate on sprint work and intervals. My problem is largely pacing - in that if I got too fast at the start I'll knacker myself out, yet I find it difficult to monitor my pace, although the last couple of laps today were reasonably fast.

Advice? Other than having an extra 26 seconds....
Are there no short cuts along your route?

In all seriousness, Fartklek training/Speedplay. Do your current longer distance route, but smash in some sprints aswell.
Yup, speed work, either informal fartlek or disciplined intervals and reps, preferably both. Use an athletics track or around the edge of a football field for the reps plus a stopwatch. Say 4 x 400 or 2 x 800s to start with and build up (I was still cracking 7:40 when I turned 40, natch.)
What Brotherton Lad said.

Yokel, to add my tuppence-ha'penny...

6 laps of the 400m track is your mile and a half. To work out your pace over the whole run, if say you wanted 9 minutes, then you'd have to run a 1 min 30 sec lap. That's one split. Once you've worked out your split time, you need to do 400m reps at that speed. Once you've done a few track sessions you'll start to remember the pace you need to run at to hit your target time.

Good luck mate. I'm 49 and used that method and ran a 9 min 01 sec PFA two weeks ago, although I am an 80kg streak of pish.
You should really work on a base foundation before looking at intervals. If you're quite unfit which I assume you are if you can't pass a PFA, just steady running will get you fitter (and faster). Speed work is for intermediates and advanced runners where steady state running will not necessarily improve your times.
It (steady running) hasn't made me faster over the last three months! I need to up the ante (and pace). I wish I'd gone balls out from the start now, but didn't as I was worried about stiches.

So, I have a day off tommorow, should I go for a longer run with intervals, do some hill sprints, or do a fast mile and a half?

And what approach should I take next week on my final chance - steady eddy (and take advantage of the extra 26 secs) or balls out? Being just a few seconds faster per lap would have resulted in passing comfortably....
Yokel with a week to go, sprints probably aren't going to make you that much faster, I'd try to steady eddie plus a bit a couple of times before the test. If you fail next week, are you going to get PAP 10'd or just a bit embarrassed?
PAP 10? Embarassed and loss of bounty.

I think the steady eddy approach is a winner - if today had been next week it would have counted as a pass due to the extra time. If I could have pushed myself just a little bit harder, say two or three seconds faster per lap it would have been a pass.

That is my problem - pacing!
PAP 10? Embarassed and loss of bounty.

I think the steady eddy approach is a winner - if today had been next week it would have counted as a pass due to the extra time. If I could have pushed myself just a little bit harder, say two or three seconds faster per lap it would have been a pass.

That is my problem - pacing!
I assume that you are TA, in which case, you cant lose your bounty for failing the PFA! Neither can you be AGAI'd. The PFA is an attempt, so as long as you complete the 2 mins of sit ups and press ups and the 1.5mile run (following squaded warm up) you will been deemed to have attempted the PFA.
The RNR has a policy of not in date for fitness test = no bounty.
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The Athletics Track is your friend. 1.45 gets you round in 10.30.

Another way is to Heart rate train. Get stronger from the inside out. Takes longer but better results.
Here's the booklet issued at Sandhurst:

You can't do much in a week. What I would do is a couple of pacing sessions, ideally on a track, so you know the distance accurately.

Take your target time for the PFA (give yourself 10 or 15 secs inside the pass standard), divide it by 3 and by 6. These are you target times for your 400m and 800m runs. Have a few goes at that pace, at 400 and at 800. This is just to get the correct pace into your head.

To get faster, you have to reduce your times for 400 and 800. Not by much, remember taking 3 secs of each 400 equals 18 secs over 1.5 mile, and 5 secs off 800 gives you 15 secs. The key is to do each interval consistently, not 2 fast ones and 2 wheezy ones. You want gradual progression each session, a few seconds faster, or one more rep, or a slightly shorter recovery, over several weeks. It really is slowly, slowly, catchee monkey.

If you haven't got access to a track, then guess 400 and 800 and train to this distance. You won't be sure of how far you are running, but can at least work on getting faster.

Edit: Just to clarify, when you go to do a session, each rep should be the same, eg 6 x 400m in 1:45 with a full recovery inbetween. Once you've mastered that you can start to play. 6 x 400 in 1:40, full recovery, then 6 x 400 in 1:40 with a 45 sec recovery and so on.
In the longer term:

Fartlek is the easy way to increase your speed - use lamp-posts as distance markers.
Other hints:
Try to train with someone faster than you.
Do put in one longer run each week - it will give you the mental confidence to run harder on the shorter distances.
If you have some close to you, run on hills - when you take tests on the flat it will seem far easier.
Be aware of the effect of your diet and alcohol intake and ensure you stay hydrated.
And finally:
Loose weight - think of it this way, would you run faster or slower with a 20 pound daysac on?
All good points.

And, join a club, remember to rest, warm up and down, drink decent beer.

Right, time for my run.
Now I am really kicking myself - if only I'd pushed myself instead of getting into a comfy groove. Does anyone else find that if you start at a comfy pace it is hard to speed up, but if you start at a faster pace - you stay faster? Perhaps it is a psychological thing?

Anyway, I don't live or work near an athletics track or a football pitch, but I do have a measured mile and a half distance (including a 180 degree turn at the end of the road which uses a few seconds - an attempt at a fast turn last week resulted in road rash). Pushing the pace this morning achieved 12.09 (including the slow turn and errors due to timing myself). After pausing to get my thoughts and breath back I slowly jogged for a few minutes then I then did some hill sprints (not sure of the length or gradient, but normally it takes 45-55 seconds to run up), jogged back and did the usual balls out sprint back to the main road.

So WTF the is problem? Surely its simply pacing?

Since I don't want to gamble of the extra 26 seconds, I'm going to concentrate of a few more faster 1.5 mile runs I think.
To me it seems to be a psychological problem you have, if you have done the run this morning followed by hill sprints (immediately after or not?) then your problem is not that you cant push faster rather that you are comfortable at the pace you are doing and dont want to push it for fear of gassing.

On your measured route, if you are running at a steady pace and feel that you can push it a bit faster, find a point during the run that you are comfortable with to increase the pace similar to what you would do in fartlek training but obviously not all out just up the pace slightly, run at that pace for a couple hundred metres and if you are comfortable with that, up it again.

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