Getting Started With Speedwork

by - Thursday, March 24, 2011

After writing about my interval workout last week, I got some questions about the easiest way to start working speed work into a regular running routine.

I thought I'd share some of my tips and hope you would share some of your advice in the comments.

Mix in some fartleks:

Fartlek means "speed play" and it's one of the easiest ways to ease into more formal speedwork. Pick one of your runs and mix in some fast bursts of speed. For example, run hard until the end of the block, then slow down and recover for a while. Then pick up the speed again until you get to a tree or another landmark. Fartleks are really informal and there's no right or wrong way to do them so they're a really easy way to start.

Leave enough recovery time between intervals:

When I first started adding speed intervals to my workouts, I could never finish very strong because I wasn't giving myself enough time to recover. The amount of recovery time you need will depend on the length of your interval and how far you are going. When I did my three minute intervals last week, I gave myself one minute of recovery time between each. It was enough time to catch my breath and feel like I was getting a break mentally before picking the speed back up.

Don't go out too hard in the beginning:

Even though intervals are meant to be done fast, if you sprint your heart out on the first one, you won't have much energy left by the time you get to the last one. This is an area where I still struggle. You want to pick a pace that's challenging, but that you can sustain for the length of the workout.

Start with one day a week:

When you're first getting into speedwork, keep your faster session to one day each week. Your other runs should all be done at your normal pace to allow your muscles to recover and to help prevent injury.

What advice do you have for runners looking to build speedwork into a training plan?

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