A new study from the University of Texas, Austin, finds that it takes just five minutes to teach people to run at their peak speed, even when they’re running in a challenging environment.
“It’s something that we know from our previous research that’s important in running performance,” says lead author John Lutz, an assistant professor of exercise science and engineering at the university.
“But the question is: How can you teach that?”
In fact, it took only 15 minutes for Lutz and his colleagues to show that it took just a few minutes to show them that a training session could increase their average running pace to around a 4:1 or faster.
“When you’re running at your peak speed and you’re getting a training stimulus, you can get a really good increase in the average speed,” says Lutz.
But there’s more.
The researchers found that running faster than the average pace for a given distance would actually improve aerobic performance in the long run.
That’s because “the more you can run faster, the better your performance will be over time,” Lutz says.
So training to run fast for longer distances could actually be a way to help people reach their maximum running speed.
Lutz’s team focused on the human body’s internal clock.
Its timing is tightly regulated and is used by our brains to make important decisions, such as when to stop and when to start working on our muscles.
But the clock also changes with time.
“We were able to study the effect of running in an environment that is difficult, but also safe,” Luts says.
“The training environment, while not optimal, can help us improve our running performance.”
To find out whether this type of training could be used in the classroom, the researchers created a computerized game called RunRunRunRun.
“You play the game as you run a distance,” Lutz says.
When you get to a point in the game where you’ve run faster than your average, you will be rewarded with a point.
“And then you run the next distance as fast as you can,” Luttz says, “and you’ll get a point for running faster.
So it’s a continuous reward system.”
The researchers then used that system to train participants to run the game in the laboratory and then in the real world.
The results showed that it was possible to increase their maximum speed by up to about 4:5.5, or nearly a 1.8-second per mile improvement, Lutz explains.
“If you have a training program that you can use in the gym and that can help you increase your running speed, then I think that it’s going to help you run faster,” he says.
The scientists also created a simple, but powerful computer simulation of the training program.
In this simulation, participants could run as fast or slower than the current pace in the virtual world.
And they could either receive a small amount of money for running or run in the same pace they were in the lab.
They were rewarded for completing a workout, but the amount of time they spent running increased, too.
“So in the end, you get a reward for running a faster pace,” LUTS says.
If the researchers could find a way for these athletes to make their training more fun and challenging, it could also increase their running speeds and possibly lead to better results in the actual workout.
But even if they could train these athletes more often, Luts and his team still needed to find out if they were getting the training they needed.
The training environment was hard enough for a human, but a human running at a 4-minute-per-mile pace in a laboratory environment would require a lot more time.
And the time spent in the training environment did not correlate with performance.
Luts is not sure why that is.
But he believes it’s because these participants were simply doing the same training as when they were running the same distance in the exercise lab, which is the best way to train.
“That was really what we were looking for,” he notes.
“They had done a lot of training in the previous training session, so we were trying to understand how they would respond to a different training environment.”
LUTSS’ STUDY: The training regimen for running fast Lutz believes that it might not be possible to improve training to achieve faster running speeds by just adding extra training sessions.
“Our results indicate that we need to increase the training time that we put into training to get the most benefit from the training,” Litz says.
But that doesn’t mean you should just try and run faster every day.
“There’s a lot to be said for the fact that we have to work at it,” he adds.
“At least when we’re training to be good athletes, we’re not just doing a little bit of training.
There’s a good reason why we put in so much effort and put in that much training to become good athletes.”
“We need to put in a lot, and