First off, happy Friday!! I’ll start of by sharing a beautiful Florida sunrise with you that I was lucky enough to catch on my run yesterday!
Ok, now back to business. Whenever I have a new coaching client, we talk about previous training schedules and workouts that they have accomplished. Whenever I give the runners their plan, I always explain the different workouts in detail. I figured, since these runners aren’t always sure of what the workouts entail, then some of you may not know either. Here is a short list of some different running speed workouts that will help to get you faster!
Tempo Runs (or lactate threshold runs) are the most important (and least fun) workouts for just about any distance. They are going to be anywhere between 15 to 30 seconds faster than your desired race pace, depending on distance. For my tempo runs during marathon training, I will hold a consistent pace of around 7:45/mile. However, if I am training for another distance, – let’s say a 10k, my tempo runs would be significantly faster – closer to a 6:50/mile. As with every workout, paces are completely scalable to your goals. Just because someone may be running a faster tempo than you doesn’t mean that you have to keep up with them. Focus on your goal for your race
These are probably the easiest ones to explain out of all the workouts. When running a pace run, you do just that – run at the pace you are looking to hold for a race. If you want to run a 3:30 marathon, your pace runs should be at 8 minutes per mile. Want to break 2 hours in the half marathon? Run at a pace of 9:09. Use this pace calculator to find out what your pace should be, based on your projected goal time.
My favorite way to do repeats is on a track, but they can be done anywhere, as long as you know the distance you are running (or have your handy-dandy Garmin). Repeats should be hit at the same time for each one. For example, let’s say you are running 10x400m –> you need to run 400 meters (1 lap around a track) 10 times. After your first 400m, jog a very easy 400m to get your heart rate down, and then start the next 400m. You should never stop during repeats. The lactic acid will start to build up in your legs, and this is not something that will aid in getting you faster. If you do not want quite as much mileage for your workout, just jog 200m in between repeats. This is a little bit harder to keep track of though, since you would be stopping at different parts of the track each time. Check out this ladder workout if you are looking to get to the track!
I tend to do fartlek runs at the beginning of my training plans. They are enough to get your legs used to speeding up a bit, but nothing too crazy. My favorite way to do a fartlek run is by light posts. I will start running fast at one light post, and then when I get to the next one, I slow down. I repeat this for as long as I want the workout to be. When I say I start running fast, I’m not talking about a sprint either. The goal is to be able to have them all at similar speeds, so don’t overdo it in the beginning.
These are great to simulate racing. You start off holding back a bit (like the start of a race where it is bottle-necked) and then slowly, mile by mile, you speed up. At the end of the run, you should be going significantly faster than when you started. I will usually drop each mile by about 10 seconds so that there is enough of a difference in speed to notice. The first mile should be faster than an easy run, but not too fast. If you have an 8 mile progression run on tap, that is 80 seconds you are going to have to drop from start to finish. Don’t go out too fast (sounds like a race, right?), or you will not complete the run how it is intended to be.
Don’t forget to warm up before each and every speed workout so that you do not hurt your muscles! I always tell my clients to warm up for 1-2 miles before attempting any type of speed. The same goes for your cool down. This is also something that I practice myself. If you are in cold weather, a longer warmup is probably necessary.