Speedwork Overview

Speedwork doesn’t just make you run faster. It makes you fitter, increases the range of movement in your joints, makes you more comfortable at all speeds, and it will ultimately help you to run harder for longer.Ease into it When you started running, you didn’t suddenly start running 35 miles a week, so adopt the same approach to speedwork. Put at least three months of steady running behind you, then start with just one session every 10 days or so.

Not too hard Speed sessions aren’t about sprinting flat out until you’re sick. They’re about controlling hard efforts and spreading your energy evenly over a set distance or time, just like you would in a perfect race.

Warm up and warm down Before each session, jog for at least 8-10 minutes to raise your blood temperature, increase bloodflow to the muscles and psyche yourself up for fast running. Follow that with some gentle stretching and then run a few fast strides before getting down to the tough stuff. Afterwards, jog for another 5-10 minutes, before stretching once again.

Find a partner Speedwork takes more effort and willpower than going out for a gentle jog. It’s much easier and more fun to train with someone else – and if you really want to improve, try running with someone just a bit quicker than you.

Quality not quantity Speed training should not account for more than 15 per cent of your total mileage. So slot in your speed sessions around the regular work you’ve been doing all along.

Speed Work Sessions:  You don’t have to try them all, and if you find one that you really like, adapt it by adding reps or increasing the distances as you become fitter (and faster).

Sessions For Beginners

Try one session a week if you can. If that’s too much, then attempt one session every 10 days.

1.  Start with a session of tempo intervals. How about six minutes brisk, one-minute walk, six minutes brisk, one-minute walk, six minutes brisk. <> Or 800 to 1600M Repeats with 100M Walks

2.  Hills are also an excellent way to start speedwork. Try 6 x 1 minute uphill, then jog back down. Gradually add extra reps until you can complete 10.

3.  Add some fartlek training to your schedule. To begin, try just a 25-minute run with quick bursts.

4.  Interval session: 6 x 1 minute, with two- to three-minute jog/walk recoveries, or 5 x 2 minutes with five-minute recoveries.

5.  After two months or so of speedwork, you can try your first session of repetitions: 5 x 300m, with four-minute recoveries; 5 x 200m, with three-minute rests; or how about 10 x 200m with three-minute recoveries.

6.  Glide downhill: on down slopes during long runs, go with the hill and allow it to pick up your pace to around 80-85 per cent of flat-out, just letting gravity power you downhill. Don’t go any further than 150m. The idea is to speed up without using any extra energy.

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