Hi Friends! Within the last few weeks, I changed up my speed work sessions since I needed a switch up from the usual tempo and interval runs. I’ve found myself kinda lazy at getting up to run, even though I still go–time change hasn’t helped that. Or I just don’t feel like running far. Both realities prompted me to push for harder, shorter, and more intense runs. I figured, get an extra half hour of sleep, not running as far, AND boost my speed? Can’t beat that!
Quick back story: I’ve not added speed work into my running routine because I never felt that I needed it. Silly I know. I always thought until my sophomore year of college, “why bother when my goal is just to finish?” I finally tried it until I heard after the upteenth time that it would be good to enhance speed, boost metabolism, become more efficient, burn more calories etc. That’s when I decided to use UT’s track for intervals. I sprinted the straightaways and walked the turns for two miles. After a few weeks of adding it twice a week, I experimented with longer intervals/shorter rests and tempo runs. Then I got my Garmin Forerunner 15 watch and have kept it up ever since! I made sure I added it to my marathon training as well since I was determined to complete it in less then four hours. Which I did! I truly believe speed work was my secret weapon in that race besides just the long runs. Read about my marathon journey and training here and here.
I routinely added pace runs to my weekly running because of time, convenience, and benefits gained in such a short amount of time. What are pace runs? Runs that are thirty minutes or less, ideally twenty minutes, of intense effort without stopping. Think of a sprint, but controlled aka PACED. You should not be able to talk and should be huffing and puffing. If you’re reading this and are thinking WTF…you can see how twenty minutes is about all you can do! For me, that’s about two-two and a half miles. I’m pretty spent let me tell you haha. Guess what though, in twenty minutes you’re DONE! You’ve heard of “minimum thirty minutes of exercise a day” yes, this is true, but INTENSITY is where its at! Pace runs up the game because they incorporate this factor. Adding this along a HIIT workout pairs for a great strength and cardio combo!! BOOYAAA kill two birds with one stone. I did this on Easter last weekend to burn up those Reese’s eggs and chocolate bunnies I ate…definitely can say I put those to good work. Check out it out here.
Before heading out for your pace runs, make sure you do a good warm-up. Although at times, I’m not the best at this, especially since I just wanna get going ASAP, I try to make sure I get as warm as I can before heading out the door. A easy jog around the block, jumping jacks, walking calf stretch, hamstring toe touches, squats, butt kicks, high knees etc. for a minimum of five minutes to get ready. Remember you’re GOING FAST for a continuous amount of time, so being properly warm is important. Sometimes I start warming up in my PJs if going in the morning, before even getting dressed to run LOL just so that I can hit the ground running literally, once I get outside.
If twenty minutes is too much at first, break it down by distance. Run one mile fast to start or try running hard for five to ten minutes. The point here is INTENSE meaning you can’t talk and may feel winded. Remember not too winded though that you could pass out…not THAT haha. You feel challenged and legs should be burning. In case you’re an exercise science nerd like me, you’re tapping into anaerobic respiration, a form of oxygen consumption that breaks down energy fast resulting in high lactic acid buildup. This buildup creates that “burning” sensation in your legs. You’re burning fat here at a more elevated rate as well. Another perk of pace runs especially if you’re running for weight loss.
Post run, just like a proper warm-up, make sure you get a get a good cool-down too. Walking around allowing for your heart rate to get back down and stretching well helps get you recovered. Foam rolling after these runs is important too! Adding pace runs starting once a week and working up to twice or even three times is ideal. GOOD LUCK!
-Do you do speed work? What kind and how often?
-Do you hate to love speed? Is it your fav? Are you meh?
-Best music for speed?? I love anything with a fast beat and motivating lyrics. Specifically #thatPOWER by will.i.am