We are runners, and running fast is part of the fun.
When you first start out, running at an even keel can be exciting enough. And, it is best to build a base before you jump into intensive speedwork. But, it is never too early to throw a little bit of speed into your weekly running mix.
What is speedwork?
Defined: A pace or effort in training that is designed to help an athlete go faster and more efficiently.
Remember: Do not go too hard or fast, too soon. The majority of your mileage should be at an easy pace. Many experts suggest an 80/20 ratio. In other words, 80% of your running should be at an easy pace and no more than 20% at faster speeds. This will vary with each runner. What’s important is that you listen to your body and slowly introduce speed workouts into your training.
5 Speed Workouts for every Runner
Strides: These are a great way to gently introduce speed into your running. Start with 10 to 15 minutes of running at an easy pace. Then, slowly pick up your pace for 15-20 seconds until you reach top speed. Now, decelerate back down to a very easy pace. Run easily for a minute or so. Then repeat. Do this 4-10 times for a great speed work session.
Introduce these into 1 or 2 or your runs each week.
Tempo: This is the effort right outside of your comfort zone. It should be hard to carry on a conversation but you can still talk in short bursts. Your breathing should be heavy but not gasping. Like all speed sessions you start with a warm up and end with a cool down.
Begin with 10-15 minutes of easy running. Then, run at tempo pace for 5-10 minutes. Slowly build up your time at tempo pace to 20-60 minutes. Cool down for 10-15 minutes.
Aim for one tempo run each week.
Interval: These are quick, short, intense efforts that are followed by a full recovery. The difference between interval and tempo is that intervals are run at or above your red line. Having a conversation is out of the question and you will be trying to catch your breath.
Start with 10-15 minutes at your easy pace. Then, run for 30-60 seconds at close to top speed. Rest for at least the same amount of time, or until fully recovered. Try to work up to 5-8 minutes at Interval pace. Be sure to follow the speed session with 10-15 minutes of easy running.
Try to do one Interval session a week.
Fartlek: Swedish for “speed play.” Fartlek’s are unstructured and all about playing with your speed. Warmup and then run fast for ten seconds or thirty. Race your dog or running partner to the next boulder or tree, and then run easy to recover. There are no rules with fartleks. Just run fast and fun and, repeat. The goal is to keep it light-hearted while gaining speed.
Throw fartleks into your running every other week.
The Negative Split: Every runner should have regular negative split runs. The idea is to make sure you run the second half of your run faster than the first half. This is ideal preparation for races because you always want to finish a race faster than you started.
For example, run 2 miles at your easy pace, and then finish the second half faster. These are great to use on your long runs. If you have a 10-mile run, run the first half easy and then race back.
Include a negative split run at least once a week.
Keep track of your progress: If you don’t have a running log book you should start one. It is very encouraging and motivating to see how you progress with speed work, and it can also see areas of weakness or ways to make positive changes in your training and running.
What is your favorite speed workout?