It’s officially the end of summer. My boys started school on August 12th (so much for Labor Day being the unofficial end of summer) and the calendar on August 12th reminded me only 10 more weeks until the Jeannie half marathon; my next long race. So even though it is still plenty hot and humid in Florida, the time for relaxing short runs is over and it’s time to start training again. It is time to get my distances up and start on my speedwork. I rarely do speed work, but I promised myself for my next half, I would add it into my regular training schedule – it is the work out you least want to do that you probably need to do the most. I often joke (half way serious) that all my 5K races are my speed work; I do know that’s not how speedwork is really done.
If you are new to running, focus on your distance first. After you’ve proven your ability to run the distance, if you want to get faster, speed work is the key. There are a multitude of different types of speedwork and, like any intense exercise routine, it is very important not to try to do too much too fast. Of course, as in my case, that doesn’t mean never do any of it. As most runners often do, I have been consulting Google, which has led me to competitor.com and vitials.com along with numerous other running related websites, in an effort to find what type of speedwork I should add into my training once a week. This article, Running 101: Basic Speed Workouts For Runners, has a lot of great basic information about speedwork.
As I baby step into speedwork, I’ve discovered that while I am generally a solo runner, I prefer company when doing fartlek training and track workouts. I’m not particularly competitive, but having company to challenge my speed while trying to go faster for longer really helps. If you have a friend who is a sprinter and you are a distance runner, fartleks can challenge both of you. Fartleks are really fun, fun to say, easy to incorporate, and great to run. Fartlek simply is Swedish for “speed play.” You can pick a point ahead of you on your run to sprint toward (tree, telephone pole, stop sign, etc), then ease back to pace, then sprint again based on your route, or you can base your tempo changes on time (1 min, 5 min, 10 min). I’ve been doing 2 minute jogs then 1 min sprints, continuously for 12 minutes. The goal is to keep recovery jogs below a certain pace and to continue to push speed during the sprints. I am not a sprinter in the least, but my distance running provides endurance and gives me a quicker recovery time after the sprint. Running intervals with someone who is faster really helps push me. I can challenge friends to keep their pace on the jogs, creating a win-win for all of us.
I still haven’t fallen in love with track workouts yet. Maybe because I don’t have access to a good track but I’m trying to get to liking them a little bit. My half training plan does call for 4×400 and some 3×1600, although I’ve been substituting hills and fartlek instead. I’m taking baby steps easing into speedwork and making it part of my weekly or possibly bi-monthly routine.
Does anyone have any speed workout that they love? How do you learn to love speedwork? How do you incorporate speed workouts? Hints, tips, suggestions are all greatly appreciated.