Speed Work

So I’ve been talking the last few months about how I need to start adding in speed work, but haven’t actually done it. Well, now I’m 3 weeks in with 1-2 speed workouts a week. I try to split them up, one on Monday and the other on Thursday, so that my tougher workouts are spread across the week (Saturdays are long run days).

?????????????????Here’s the two speed workouts I prefer.

Tempo Run (Monday):

Mondays are all about the tempo run. Tempo runs are about maintaining a specific and more importantly consistent pace. Distances and paces will vary. Some will tell you do it at a ‘comfortably hard’ pace – where you could ask a running partner if the pace is okay but could not keep up conversation. Others will give you a time goal.

In my case, I do a mix of both. When I’m not training towards anything in particular I have traditionally gone by the ‘comfortably hard’ measurement. Right now I do have a goal in mind. As such I’ve set myself a goal pace to run this race at. Hopefully my logic here will make sense. Since my interval workouts will target the ability to have bursts of speed I’ve decided my tempos will be all about that consistent pace. And since my plan is related towards the end goal of a marathon, I’m pacing myself at slightly fast 8:00 miles. (As a note: if I ran that pace for a marathon I’d finish around 3:30. My current half marathon PR averages a 7:35 pace.)

To start it’s a pretty short workout. I’m doing 5 miles: one mile warm-up, three miles at pace, and then one mile cool down. My goal over the next few months is to slowly increase the distance—upping the miles so that I’ll be doing more at pace. Eventually something like a 10-12 mile workout with 8-10 miles at pace. While hoping this will rub off on me for the actual race, I’m more focused on it helping me get back into pacing myself properly (because right now I’m generally all over the place).

Want to read a little more about tempos? Check out this Running Times article with the basics or this Competitor article talking about different types for different training.

Interval Work (Thursday):

Out of habit from running with a group that usually does interval work on Thursdays, it’s now my preferred day as well. Just fits well with the schedule. Now I generally prefer doing these workouts at a track because the distances are easily measurable and do not require checking my Garmin every 30 seconds. I know there are downsides considered with the action of running in the same direction that can cause imbalance in your muscles, but I haven’t had too much trouble.

My usual interval workout involves 800m repeats. I start with a 1 mile warm-up (NEVER neglect your warm-ups and cool downs, they are so important to help keep from hurting yourself) before jumping into the repeats. Then it’s 800 repeat, 1/4 mile (or 400m or 1 lap on a track) at an easy jog,  800 repeat, etc. After the last repeat, I’ll close out the workout with at least a 1 mile cool down. Sometimes I’ll do a little more for mileage or if my muscles are still a bit tight.

If it’s a race week, I’ll traditionally cut back to 400m repeats and no more than 4. If I’m feeling adventurous I may do longer repeats than 800m, but 800s are my default (look up Yasso 800s if you get a chance). When not in training, a usual interval workout will be 4x800m and about 5 miles long. As training progress for the marathon, I’ll slowly be upping the repeats to finish at 10 total 800s (the last 2 workouts before taper).

Besides having a set distance, interval workouts also have a set speed. My goal right now is to average 3:30 per 800m repeat or the equivalent of a 7:00 mile pace. I also attempt to progressively get faster through a workout. While training for my first marathon I regularly finished my last repeat at 3:25 or faster. My goal is to attempt to do the same this time; train my body to be faster at the end than the beginning.

Interval workouts are great for two reasons. For one your teaching your legs the feeling of a faster pace/turnover than most of your other training will do. The second, assuming you work to get faster with each repeat, is the idea of finishing strong. Teaching your body to give more when it’s tired than when it’s first starting and full of energy.

So that’s about it. Just a quick little chat covering the speed workouts that make up my conditioning right now.

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