I’ve recently been asked, “Can you get faster and run further or do you need to train for one OR the other?”
Whatever our goals as runners, our achievements are constrained by our genes, our training programmes and the commitment we can make to achieving our goals.
Genes: We can train to our strengths and out-train our weaknesses, to an extent, but they’re there and we’re stuck with them. This doesn’t mean that your genes are an excuse not to train to your strengths (or eliminate as many of your weaknesses as possible!), but they will limit, to an extent, what you can achieve.
Training programmes: Depending on which blog you read on which day, which training platform you pay to use and which data you choose to share with which tech company, training plans are subject to all the usual variations about the ‘best’ way to train. Some swear by heart-rate, some by VO2 max, some by your inside leg measurement subtracted from your age in minutes… (Ok, I made up the last one, but you get the idea.) Finding one which works for you is hit and miss: incredible and pb laden at their greatest; demoralising and injury-ridden at their worst.
Commitment: Most ‘off the net’ training plans seem to ask runners to do 4 runs a week, plus cross training and strength work. While this might be a tried and tested way to reach a particular goal, most recreational aren’t going to be able to engage with that kind of plan consistently. In real-life, we have jobs to juggle, children to get to/from school (or home-teach!) and, quite frankly, other things we’d rather be doing.
So that brings me to the actual answer to the question. Yes, it is entirely possible to train for both speed and endurance (distance), provided you can commit, CONSISTENTLY to a training plan that works for you.
If you’re struggling, please get in touch; I love writing training plans that help people to get where they want to be, without expecting them to be superheroes!