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Speed January 9, 2007

Posted by RegiVizz in Running.

What would be the best time/way to work on speed?

Last night I ran the first mile a minute faster than my average pace, but then my next mile ended up a minute slower than my average.  The third mile was average.  Is this any way to build up speed?   Mostly the first mile was to work off some hurt and frustration but hey, maybe it’ll help my speed in the long run?  I was hoping to gauge my success by how I felt at the end (hoping to feel like I had worked harder) but due to circumstances (crying a bit) I couldn’t really tell.

What do you more experienced runners say?  Do you speed up your short runs?

Asics: 10 miles this week, 82 total. 



1. Eric - January 9, 2007

Well, I’m not experienced…but I’ve heard that interval training helps a lot with speed.

Basically you do bursts of high end speed, which supposedly helps build your “fast twitch” fibers, and puts your heart rate above 90%. Then you walk for a bit, or slow jog and let your heart rate drop, and do it again.

Look up interval training and/or speedwork.

One thing that works for me, is that my first mile or mile and a half I make sure I’m going at a pretty slow pace, slower than normal. That allows me to get warmed up, and then hammer through the rest of it.

2. Dave Fravel - January 9, 2007

Pick a day (for me it’s Wednesday) and make that your official speed workout day. Get yourself down to the track (if you have one nearby), slap on your stopwatch and go.

When Keith and I were training for our October Marathon we pumped out countless 800s. Our goal was to run them in

3. zappoman - January 10, 2007

RegiVizz – This is a great question. I’ll admit, I’m no expert. For both my Ironman and my Marathon, I just trained to “run at a certain pace” which meant I pretty much ran every run I did (long or short) at about the pace I was targeting for my races. I know this is not the optimal approach to working on speed. And so I am trying to incorporate more speed sessions into my training. Now that I’ve recovered from my stress fracture, I look forward to getting out and running a speed session, they are fun.

Eric’s and Dave’s comments are right on. There are also lots of good resources for putting together “fun” speed workouts.

My basic approach is this:

1) Go to a track… it will be much easier to do this at a track than anywhere else.
2) Warm up by running some easy laps.
3) Run as fast as you can for a predetermined number of laps.
4) Actively Recover by jogging (very slow pace) for 1 lap.
5) Repeat 3/4 until you’ve completed your workout
6) Cool down by running some more easy laps

For step 3, if you run a shorter distance you should run faster. So for example, my 400m pace is around a 5:05 mile pace. This is basically my VO2max. When I run this fast, I feel like my head is going to fall off right around 350m. So I might go to the track, and run 4-6 400m laps to warm up starting at about an 8:30 pace speeding to my tempo pace of 7:30.

When I hit the start of lap 5 I will go all out at 5:10 pace for 1 lap. Then I will jog the next lap at 10:00 pace. I will repeat this pattern for maybe 8 work effort laps. Then cool down. My total distance for this workout will be around 6-7 miles for a total time of around 50-60 minutes.

As Dave mentions “800s” are another favorite of some of my runner friends… same basic idea, but you run 2 laps at your faster pace… of course for me, I couldn’t run two laps at a 5:10 pace, so I’d probably be hitting more like a 6:00 pace. But again, this is pushing myself to the limit. Which is kinda the idea.

You can do mile repeats. Pyramids or ladders are where you run a 4×400, 2×800, 1×1600, 2×800, 4×400, etc.

It’s really fun to do this with a partner, that way you can race during the sprints and chat and visit during the recoveries.

I hope this is helpful.


4. RegiVizz - January 10, 2007

Thanks for all of your help! I’ll do some speed workouts on Thursday…we’ll see how it goes!

5. karlmccracken - January 10, 2007

Yep – interval training is what you need. Zappoman’s explanation’s pretty much about it.

What I would add is that you MUST rest between each repeat (usually only for a minute . . . feels like much less!), and your aim is to be CONSISTENT over the session. So you set a pace on the first circuit that’s not flat out, but reliably quick for the single circuit’s distance. It sounds more confusing than it is . . . and it also helps to do this with friends, as by the time you get to the 4th or 5th circuit, you tend to need moral support!

Over a few weeks, you’ll find the pace is quickening, AND in normal runs at whatever your pace is for their distance, you have some gas left in the tank for the end.


6. Nordictwin - January 12, 2007

Are you planning on lapping me?!

7. RegiVizz - January 12, 2007

No worries Nordictwin…see my next post.

8. Running: Speed Training - part 1 « Get To The Point - January 16, 2007

[…] training is well explained by El ZappoMan on ‘Runners Happy’, but the problem I’ve been grappling with is what should I set as my target time for mile […]

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