Speed Work Training

3 years ago
By: Ken Schramm

Want to perform better during your next race or need something to spice up the everyday routine? Ask yourself the following question. Is it time to include speed work, otherwise known as interval training, into your workout? Learning the proper way to Fartlek, which is Swedish for “speed play,” involves faster pick-ups with recovery intervals in between. This training technique can be done on the open road, trail or treadmill. If your desire is to be more structured, then conduct this workout at a track where the distances are already set for you. You can even add a level of competitiveness and fun by training with running friends who will help to push or pull you along.

It’s a fact that most new runners and even some seasoned runners get caught up in running the same training paces during their workouts. As you probably guessed, this produces similar race results. If you’re trying to set a new PR in your next 5K or even qualify for a big race, like the Boston Marathon, you need to shake up your training. Try adding some speed work to the mix.

Speed work helps runners to build strength and conditioning. You learn to move beyond your comfort zone by tapping into your anaerobic fitness while at the same time increasing your aerobic capacity. The level or degree of speed work is different for the type of race or distance you plan to run. Always start your speed work with a warm up mile. The duration of your workout can be built with either a length of time or specific distance. For instance, the time can be based on 1-5 minutes for the fast interval and 1-3 minutes for the recovery interval, then repeat for multiple times. There are lots of variables to consider, but you’ll want to repeat according to your planned training. A good amount of repeats would be 4-6 times, finishing with a cool down mile.

The other method uses a specific distance for the fast and recovery intervals. Distance training works well at a track. If you’re able to conduct this workout at a track, then you can use the following example: choose 400, 600, 800 or 1,200 meters for the fast interval with a 400 meters recovery in between each fast interval. Repeat this multiple times. As with the time training, shoot for repetition of 4-6 times with a cool down of about a mile at the end of your speed work.

For another distance workout, try a “ladder exercise.” After your warm up, you will begin your first fast interval with 400 meters and recover with 400 meters. Next, jump up to 600 meters for the fast interval, again followed by 400 meters recovery. Now, you’re ready for 800 meters fast interval and 400 meters recovery. Move on to 1,200 meters fast interval and 400 meters recovery. If you haven’t had enough, then move back down the ladder with the 800 meters fast and again 400 meters slow interval. To be most effective, the rest interval needs to be long enough to allow enough recovery to run your speed interval at your fastest possible pace. This will help to improve your overall running speed.

Remember to always utilize a warm up and cool down period of 5-10 minutes or 1 mile each during the routine. Pace yourself with your training. The idea is to gradually build up each week on length of time and distance of intervals. Get ready to see those new PRs when you cross the finish line!

You spend many hours a week training and staying fit. Speed work will help you accomplish your running goals and keep it interesting along the way. Another way to stay active and not get bored with training is to enter a local race. Joplin Memorial Marathon has a distance for everyone. Register today for the full marathon, half marathon, or the 5K and show off your hard work.

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