So, you’re training hard, but do you find yourself wondering how long before you see the results of your hard work? The good news is science has helped us determine these numbers but the answers might surprise you. Your age, the type of training you are doing & other factors will all determine when you see the benefit. Don’t forget: response time will vary by individual.

Let’s start with the “long” run.  The goal here is to increase endurance and work the aerobic system.  Usually this type of run is done once a week and makes up 20-30% of your overall weekly mileage or time.  It could take 4-6 weeks of long runs to see the aerobic benefit and get comfortable with these longer runs.

The next common type of training run is a tempo or threshold run.  These workouts are fairly intense, 10-15 seconds slower than 10K race pace.  I like to think of them as running fast but under control.  Since this is an intense workout it will take about 7-10 days before you see the results

Moving on, it’s the daunting interval workouts. These are very intense workouts that contain short bouts of faster-than-race-pace running lasting 2-5 minutes in duration and repeated “x” number of times.  Since this is a very intense workout, it takes a little longer to see the results.  For interval training, it takes about 10-14 days before you reap the rewards.

Lastly, there is sprint training.  This is an all-out effort for 10-15 seconds tops, followed by complete recovery between each sprint.  Even though this is a top speed workout the results can be seen quickly in just 1-2 days.  The reason for the quick turnaround is that you are working more of the nervous system to get more muscle fibers active and working.  So really, you’re training the brain just as much as the muscle on this one. 

Now, after reading this, you may understand why you taper off workouts before a race because completing a really intense workout only 7-10 days before a race is more likely to just tire you out versus give you that extra boost.

The key to any and all workouts is recovery. Follow the Hard/Easy principle of working hard one day and then working easy the next. Your body heals and recovers during the easy workout and that is when gains in your fitness are made.  Continuously working hard or semi-hard on every workout leads to poor gains in fitness and it takes a lot longer to see those gains.  Some things that will help your recovery include: lots of sleep, proper nutrition and massage/flexibility training. 

So work hard, recover and you will be on your way to the best race you have ever had!

Always Running,

Nate Vandervest

Running Coach, CSCS, CES

Nate is a running coach and strength coach that specializes in running assessments, strength training and personalized running programs.  For more information contact Nathan.Vandervest@bellin.org