Coach Rants: When an athlete says, “I want to go fast!”

Great run formAthletes who have worked with us over several seasons and have done their training as indicated, have usually enjoyed steady improvement and done so without injury. But when we sit down at the end of the year to plan for the coming season, many times the conversation goes something like this:

Athlete: “But this year, I want to go fast!”

Coach: “Oh! You want to go fast? Well, I wish you would have told me sooner because I’ve written all of your training programs thinking you wanted to go slow. In fact, I’ve withheld key workouts from your programs, silver bullets every one of them, that contain the secrets for going fast.”

Of course, we never say this. But does anyone honestly think we’re not trying our darnedest to write the best program for them given their ability level, time constraints, and goals to allow them to achieve the fastest possible times and do so without injury?

“But I want to be fast. And right now, please.”

Ok. Here it is.

The secret.

How you go fast.*

  1. Low intensity workouts to build oxygen carrying capability and teach your body to metabolize fat for fuel more efficiently.
  2. Tempo workouts to build strength and prepare the body for harder workouts to come.
  3. Threshold workouts to increase lactate tolerance.
  4. Rest.
  5. Repeat.

The time required to go fast takes weeks, months, and years of consistent, smart training.

There is no magic 8-week plan.

There is no special track workout.

It’s consistency and patience.

And just in case you’re skimming, let’s make that clear. CONSISTENCY AND PATIENCE are the keys to going fast.


*This is a short article, so technique is not mentioned. But obviously, addressing run technique, pedaling mechanics and bike fit, and swim stroke technique all play parts in the “going fast” equation, especially in swimming. So in addition to following your coach’s training plan to the letter, as we know you are doing, improving technique in each discipline will help you become a more efficient athlete. And an efficient athlete who trains properly is going to see the results they are looking for.

10 thoughts on “Coach Rants: When an athlete says, “I want to go fast!”

  1. Todd Silva

    Right on. My favorite saying in this world…”there ain’t no free lunch” could not be more applicable to us athletes. In the past I usually skipped my “non-critical” workouts. The shorter ones. That was until Bill reminded me a few months ago that those make up a good portion of my weekly miles when added together. I truly thank you guys for yes working to get us faster…but more importantly…to get their without injury.

  2. Adrienne Leblanc

    Great article, many excellent reminders especially needing to be patient-that is easy to forget!

  3. Kathy Stanley

    Very similar advice to what I received from our financial planner years ago….. look at it as a marathon, not a sprint! After having followed your training plan religiously for almost a year, I can attest to the fact that IT WORKS and with no injury! That said…..if I could only get a little “faster” in my run 🙂

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