I felt like I might very well fly off the back of the treadmill. With 10 of my 12×400 intervals done, I grabbed the ‘oh shit’ bar and moved to my recovery speed. Drenched in sweat, I was seriously questioning if I was going to be able to manage my last two intervals plus the two cool down miles. Yet, I persisted because I’m stubborn and I hate being defeated by a run. I quickly jumped off the treadmill, grabbed a new sweat towel and went right back to it. When I was done, I felt so good. Exhausted and hungry, but good.
Speed work, I had no idea what that meant when I started running. I didn’t even think about needing to do it until my first marathon after I had Ella. It was then that I decided if I wanted to continue to improve I needed to add speed work to compliment the knowledge I gained on how to actually run a marathon after having a few under my fuel belt. It was at this same time that I decided running more than 3-4 days/week did not work for my body. I was injured all the time.
There are several speed workouts you can do from strides to fartleks to intervals and tempos. I do two primary speed workouts: intervals and tempo runs. My intervals range from 400m to 1600m repeats. Confession, I hate 400m intervals and try to only include them 2-3 times per marathon training cycle. They are fast and there are a lot of them. These intervals help me raise my VO2 Max, increase efficiency, build strength and help with overall form. The important thing to keep in mind when doing intervals of various distances, should be run at different paces. A useful tool for figuring out training paces is the McMillan Pace Calculator.
Tempo runs help me stimulate race pace or slightly faster. By doing these runs, I increase my anaerobic threshold which helps me run faster before I get tired. A side benefit, they have really helped me run at a steady pace during races.
While I, like many others have a love-hate relationship with speed work, it’s made a huge difference in my overall running. As I get faster, my form improves and my overall fitness continues to improve. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a shiny new PR from time to time? It is important however to not overdue the speed work. Unless it is absolutely unavoidable, I never recommend doing back-to-back speed sessions or doing a speed session the day before or after a long run.
Last Week’s Training:
Monday – 7 miles with 5 at Tempo
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – 12×400 @ 6:07 min/mile with 2 mile warm up/cool down
Thursday – Orangetheory (3.08 miles)
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 18 mile run
Sunday – Unplanned rest with sick kiddos/getting sick myself…blah