speed-workout-syntaxSpeed Training Introduction
an overview of how to build your speed and endurance

Most runners and walkers in BOISE RunWalk’s training programs for marathon, half marathon and 10K distances want to get faster. Often times at first, your goal might be to simply finish your target distance with a smile on your face, but after accomplishing that awesome goal, runners and walkers often decide to beat their previous time by becoming faster. Here’s an introduction on how to increase your speed, and your smile.

Two Example Speed Goals – Sally and Bob
One goal is to simply beat your previous time. Another goal will be to run a specific race pace. Many runners who are making the decision to increase their speed for the first time can make a realistic goal of “just going faster” at their next event. This is the focus of this article, to help people just run faster. For a more specific goal pace, the author of this article believes you will learn how to quantify and measure performance to accomplish a specific pace goal by first following the methodology laid here and working with your coach. Let’s use two examples with Bob and Sally to explain this.

speed-workout-structureBob ran his first ever half marathon 3 months ago in 2 hours and 30 minutes (2:30) which is a 11:27 pace (minutes per mile). Bob wants to beat his time in the next half marathon 12 weeks from now, and he has maintained an established base weekly miles, injury free. Bob doesn’t really care what his next time will be, he simply wants to beat 2:30.

Sally ran her third half marathon 3 months ago in 2 hours (2:00) which is a 9:09 pace (minutes per mile). Sally has been getting faster in her previous two events but she’s not sure she can maintain her streak of faster times without quantifying her training regimen. Sally’s goal is a 8:45 race pace for her next half marathon. Sally has maintained an established base weekly miles, and she’s injury free.

This article is for Bob, but Sally will benefit too with additional input from her coach. Bob is relatively inexperienced at monitoring his training pace, and he just wants to beat 2:30 in his next half marathon. For Sally, she largely gained her increases in speed over her previous events by focusing on nutrition, losing a little weight, running longer distances to build endurance, running smarter, and doing weekly core strength workouts, and swimming during the season. Sally is ready to set a specific time goal and train into that time goal because she’s not sure just how much faster she can become  without quantifying her speed work efforts and working with her BOISE RunWalk coaches.

This article is for Bob, but Sally will learn and use all of this information too. It’s just that for Sally, she will be targeting specific training paces, a discussion of which would exceed the length of this article. We’ll discuss Sally’s specific training issues in another article, but for now, Sally will absolutely be able to gain increases in speed and probably hit her goal by following the guidelines below.

Bob can increase his speed by focusing on the following areas:
* core strength
* nutrition and hydration
* gradually increasing distance to build endurance
* adding mid-week speed workouts

In BOISE RunWalk’s group training programs, Bob is learning how to increase his core strength and improve his lifestyle nutrition and hydration. He attends Saturday morning discussions on race day nutrition and fluids strategy. In the BOISE RunWalk training program, Bob will run longer distances over the season, and this will build his endurance. So let’s focus specifically on the speed work.

Time Your Workouts – Monitor Your Pace
If you have not been timing your workouts or do not have a good idea what your current pace is, estimate your current pace by tracking your time with a sports watch or GPS device. When purchasing a sports watch or GPS device, consider one that provides interval alerts (beeps) so that you can set your interval alerts for run/walk, speed work, and the like. Having a device that beeps at you during your speed work, or during your event when it’s time to walk or run, is very beneficial. While our example is of Bob which doesn’t quantify paces, we know he wants to monitor his pace.

Long Distance Saturdays
In BOISE RunWalk, your longest weekly distances is scheduled for Saturday. Saturdays are not the day you focus on speed work, but instead focus on building endurance by going the distance at a sustainable long-distance pace.

Mid-Week Speed Work
Set aside one of your mid-week workouts to do speed work. Do not pick a Friday before a long Saturday. Do not pick a Sunday after a long Saturday. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are very good days if you are following the BOISE RunWalk training schedule.

Structure of A Speed Workout
1. warm-up
2. speed intervals (slow/fast/slow/fast...)
3. cool down

Your warm-up for a mid-week speed session could be 10+ minutes of light jogging.

speed-workout-scheduleSpeed Intervals (example 8x30:30)
The speed intervals will follow a weekly plan as shown in the chart, Recommended Speed Workouts. Your first workout is “8x30:30” which is 30 seconds of fast with 30 seconds of slow, and do this eight times. How fast you run during the fast intervals is determined by a couple factors, and you may need to make adjustments as you become more knowledgeable of your body’s response to speed work. You might want to run at 70% of your maximum heart rate, or a pace determined by how fast you can run six (6) minutes. But Bob will keep this decision simple, and run a pace fast enough that it feels like real work, and still be able to complete the eight 8th interval at the same pace or better than the 1st interval. The workout should leave you feeling worked but not wiped out. Experiment. Here’s the bottom line in deciding how fast you can attempt your speed intervals: you must be able to complete the entire speed workout without killing yourself, else you are running too fast.

Cool Down
The cool down is part of your workout. Be sure to give adequate time.

Bob notices 30 minutes scheduled for his Tuesday workout on the BOISE RunWalk schedule, and he is following the optional speed schedule “Recommended Speed Workouts” on this page, and the first workout calls for 8x30:30. So, he will structure his workout like this:

a) 11 minutes warm-up
b) 30 seconds fast + 30 seconds slow, and do this eight times, for a total of eight minutes.
c) 11 minutes cool down

By using your weekly long runs to build your endurance, and working some basic speed techniques into a mid-week workout, you will get faster. Small, incremental improvements are the best way to always feel the thrill of success, while avoiding the physical trauma of injury or the mental downer of feeling as though you are never as good as you’d like to be.


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