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Speed Work For Runners

speed work running

written by runnergirl training

Want to know the secret to running faster? You run faster. Thoughts are conjured of painfully pushing your legs to go just another lap while obsessively checking your watch. There are actually ways to make speed work doable & even enjoyable! Read more below!

Why is speed work necessary? It conditions your brain, muscles & joints to work synchronized at faster speeds. It also teaches your body how to clear out the accumulated lactic acid. That’s the burning sensation in your legs when running or working out. The body learns how to adapt to more of it being produced and becomes more efficient with disposing of it through speed training.

Guidelines for starting speed work in a running program:

1. Build an aerobic conditioning base first before adding in speed sessions. That means performing runs that have your heart rate in the 65-85% of maximal predicted heart rate. This should be done for at least two-three months before adding in speed work to prevent injury. Then add it one speed workout a week.

2. There are a variety of options when it comes to speed workouts. Using a variety of workouts keeps the workouts interesting.

            Ins & Outs:
            Run fast to a set distance or to a marker then run the next amount slower and repeat. For example, sprinting the straight part of a track and slowly running the curves. An outdoor example is to alternate sprinting and slowly running from fence post to the next.

            Yasso 800’s:
            Run 800 meters minutes & seconds in your marathon goal time of hours and minutes. Following this is a recovery slow run of 400 meters. For example, if your desired marathon finishing time is 4 hours and 15 minutes you would run 800 meters in 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

            Pick-Ups at End of Run:
            In the second half of the run add in speed pick-ups. This trains your body to run fast when it is tired.

At the end of a run, pick a flat straight distance. Start running slowly and speed up to 80% of maximal speed. Run slower to a stop. Focus on quick feet turn over. 

Start by running the first 1/3 of a hill and walk the remainder of the hill and back down. Repeat 3-5 times. After 2 weeks of feeling comfortable add in the next 1/3 of the hill. Then add the last 1/3 of running the hill. Once the full hill has been mastered then run repeats by adding another hill repeat.

Run with quick bursts of speed interspersed during the run.

3. Put the speed session into your training week in the right place. Before and after it should be easy workouts.


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