Monday, November 7, 2011

Speedwork I luv (workouts to get faster)

Speedwork.   Intervals.  8x800m.

These words inspire fear in many a runner.

They kinda scare me too.  But I freaking love it.

Here's why:  
I never feel more like an athlete when I'm rolling down the backstretch of a track in the middle of a repeat mile.  Or even when I'm on the treadmill, getting "girl, you crazy?" looks with my sweat flying on anyone in a 10 foot radius.

I don't love it because it feels awesome in a traditional, eating cheetos, kind of way.  In fact, 50% of the time I want to stab myself during intervals.  But it's still awesome in that gut wrenching, leave all your days frustrations on the track and see what you've got kind of way.

I'm no running expert by a long shot, but I run a lot of workouts (and not a lot of mileage or long runs...what can I say, I like what I like).  Soooo....I thought I share some of mah fave workouts that I think help me be prepared to run decently.  (I'm not going to suggest speedwork for a marathon because I have no idea how to train for a marathon.   And am too lazy to do so at the moment.  All I can tell you is that Yasso 800s do NOT predict your marathon time.) 

For a 5k (or 10k just go a little slower and add a repeat or two)

The Meat O' 5k Training
What: 4x mile at 5k pace or slightly faster.  2.5-3.5 minutes rest.
Why:  Gets you used to running further than 3.1 miles, at the pace you want to keep up for 3.1 miles.
Where:  I think the track or the road is the best place to do this workout.  Treadmill is kind of a cop out for this workout.
Difficulty Rating (1-5, 5 is hardest):  4

Last Minute Speed
What:  A few (12 or so) 200s at mile pace.  60 second rest or short jog between intervals.
Why:  To get some speed under your legs the week of a 5k race but not to completely exhaust you.
Where:  Doing this on a treadmill would be ridiculous.  Find a 200m stretch somewhere else.
Difficulty Rating (1-5, 5 is hardest):  2.5

Indicator of Death
What:  5x1000m at 3200m race pace (somewhat faster than 5k pace), 60 second rest between intervals
Why:  If you can run this workout correctly, I bet you can run your 5k at goal pace
Where:  Wherever you want to get through this bad boy.
Difficulty Rating (1-5, 5 is hardest):  4.99.

For A Half Marathon

Prep for Going Out Too Fast (not that I was goin' to..) 
 (I got this from here)
What:  2x 800/1200/3200m supersets.  800 meters at 5k pace, 1200 meters at 10k pace, 3200 meters at goal half marathon pace.  Jog 800m between sets.  Don't rest during each superset.
Why:  This is great prep for still running strong after going out too fast and keeping it strong when you're tired.
Where:  Actually recommend treadmill.  It makes the speeds easier to get right.
Difficulty Rating (1-5, 5 is hardest):  4.5

The Fast Finish
What:  A long run of 8-11 miles with the last 3-5 miles at half marathon pace.
Why:  To teach your butt how to run fast when you're tired.
Where:  Probably wherever works for you.
Difficulty Rating: (1-5, 5 is hardest)  4.

Terrain Simulation Tempo
(ok ok.  I almost never do this.  But I should.)
What:  A tempo between 10k and half marathon pace of 4-7 miles on similar terrain as your race (hills, downhill...etc).
Why:  To learn how to run in an area like your dang race!
Where:  Outside.  Preferably in the blazing heat or freezing cold.  Simulate all possible race day discomfort.
Difficulty Rating:  Kind of depends :).

What are your fave workouts?  

Also, I'm doing a Duathlon this weekend.  Uhh....any advice?


  1. Duathlon advice: Don't fall off the bike ;-)

    Love these workout ideas...will be using them!

  2. Great post! I always end up doing the same boring mile repeats. This will give me a chance to spice it up! (And maybe get faster in the process..who knows)

  3. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE speed workouts too, they're my fav. But I do most of mine (ok, all of them) on the treadmill. When I'm doing 800 repeats it means doing a lot of math in my head about when to speed up and slow down, but its worth it because I can do it at home and because I don't know where a track is close to me :) Cop out? Maybe. But I'm OK with that.

  4. this is such great advice. and up until lately i would come up with about a million excuses for why i cant do speed work. i mean...dont get me wrong. i still use all those excuses i just actually somehow found the courage to face some of my fears and try it a few times. i tried the last one this past weekend. it was the hardest LR i have ever done but probably the most beneficial. thanks for the tips on some new ones I haven't tried :)

  5. Great post! I really should try all of these things but I'm lazy and would rather run 6 miles easy. ha ha cough out!

    I could not agree more with you about 800's definitely not predicting marathon pace. I can run a dam 800 in 3 minutes but am far from running a 3 hour marathon. Stupid Bart Yasso...

  6. Great advice! I dread speedwork but dang it - it works! After this weekend's race I want to incorporate more to get faster for some shorter races.

  7. Will you be my coach? I'll pay you in monster hugs and candy.

  8. Also not a Yasso 800s believer....

    Good luck in the duathlon. I'll never do a tri, but a "du" I might consider so I'm curious to hear how it goes.

  9. Great tips!! :)

    I love the track and mile repeats...that's about it! I agree with you on Yasso's 800's...not a great predictor (for me)!!

    Good luck on your duathlon! :)

  10. My Dualthon is running then eating, so no advice here.

  11. Awesome post. I cant wait to try all of these. I've been doing a little speedwork but definitely need to incorporate more.