Fast Like the Wind, and Tips to Do Speed Work

I like running fast sometimes. My fast.
It may not be fast for others, but for me it feels fast like the wind, fast like no one could ever catch me.

Wherever we may be in terms of running speed, improving it is not as hard as it seems. Our bodies learn to run faster, to breathe better, to move our legs more efficiently.
This is something I really like about running, we compete with ourselves, and eventually we win.

I did 2 speed workouts this week, they ended up being one day after the other (not ideal) because I had to change my schedule for work, although usually I do a rest/easy/cross training day in between speed days.

Monday was a HIIT workout with 6 relatively long intervals of 3 minutes each at 04:17 Min/KM (06:54 Min/Mile), with 2 minutes easy in between at 05:19 Min/KM (08:33 Min/Mile). Total time running, including warm up and cool down: 45 minutes. Total distance: 9.2KM/5.7M.

Even though the fast part of the interval is not a new pace for me, it is still a fast pace that I’m not too used to running. After the first interval I was wondering how I’d get through the second one, much less the sixth one.

I did this workout on the treadmill, so every new interval I visualized my weekend running route by the beach, and mentally placed myself 3 minutes before I finish the run (I know the route by heart and pretty much know where that is), and I just kept thinking “just pass the gas station and the bus stop and the interval will be over”. That certainly beat staring at the treadmill TV screen, although the NBA playoffs game was pretty entertaining too.

Today was a Fartlek run, also on the treadmill, with 15 minute warm-up, and 3 longer intervals of 10 minutes at 04:53 Min/KM (07:51 Min/Mile), easy pace 3 minutes, 10 minutes 04:37 Min/KM (07:26 Min/Mile), easy pace 2 minutes, and the last 7 minutes at 04:27 Min/KM (07:09 Min/Mile). Total time running: 50 minutes. Total distance: 9.9KM/6.1M.


Tips to start doing speed sessions:

* Do it on the treadmill – apologies to everyone who hates the treadmill, but to me being able to set an exact pace and know the treadmill will keep it, is a huge advantage. Sure, it’s mentally important to be able to control the pace without the assistance of the treadmill, but for a tough speed session, especially if you are a beginner runner, just running fast is tough enough for now.

* Set a realistic hard pace – Don’t get carried away with the speed you want to run or think you should be running, speed work is hard work, especially the last few intervals or the last few minutes of a fartlek run, so you want to keep it challenging but safe. Take one of your last regular runs and calculate your average pace, now do the hard part of the run at a faster pace than the average, and the easy part of the run at a slower pace than the average.

* Easy is good – You will be making quite an effort during the fast parts, so keep them short. For a HIIT session 30 seconds to 1 minute is enough, and make the easy part at least 2 minutes long, 3 minutes is even better. For a fartlek you can make the intervals a bit longer, but then go easier on the pace.

* Take your time – Write down your fast/easy paces, and do the same workout again next week. After you do it a few times, and the paces start feeling a bit easier than before, increase your fast speed a few seconds per KM/Mile while leaving the easy speed the same.

* It’s OK to stop – Speed sessions are tough and they are supposed to be. Pay attention to your body, and if you feel you really can’t go longer, it’s OK to give yourself a break. You could stop for a few minutes and then continue, or decrease the fast interval speed a few seconds per KM/Mile, or altogether stop.

* Have fun – you’ll be sweaty and hurting and huffing and puffing. But running is fun and speed work is enjoyable in its own way. So run hard, run fast like the wind, and enjoy it!


Do you do speed work?
Do you like it?
Do you feel that you are a faster runner from doing speed work?



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