Picking up the pace

When training time is both fixed and of the essence, which is often the case for people training around work, increasing the pace of exercise is the best way to make the session harder.

When it comes to increasing pace, I like to refer to the concept of ‘accumulating minutes’, which we have mentioned using in the early stages of an exercise program.

Essentially, we want to accumulate minutes at the new pace and continue to increase the total minutes over a consistent basis (weekly, fortnightly, etc).

Let’s use the example of a 45-minute walk around suburbs that covers 3km (4km/h pace).

We want to pump the pace up to 5km/h, which works out at 3.75km in the allocated 45-minutes.

There are a couple of ways to do this.

We could progressively increase the speed each week, so the distance goes from 3km, to 3.1km, to 3.2, etc.

Alternatively, we can use the concept of accumulating minutes at the new pace (5km/h) and integrate this into the training session.

The goal might be to walk the first km at 5km/pace (~12 minutes) and then revert back to the original pace for the remaining 33 minutes.

The next session we try to increase the 5km/h pace to 15 minutes, followed by 18 minutes and so on.

Using either approach, the magnitude of the increase should be inversely proportional to the frequency - so if you’re walking five times per week, look for smaller changes to ensure you are able to adhere.

If you’re doing the session once per week, around other training, then the magnitude of changes can be greater.

You can even vary up the speed during the activity by switching between the two speeds.

As any of my clients who incorporate running into the training program would know, this is a great tool for increasing output over set distances or times.

It’s called Fartlek training, which translates into ‘speed play’ in Swedish, or at least that’s what I am told and also tell others...

Tom Fitzgerald