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Speed Workouts : why everyone needs to do them

What’s your goal? To get fit(ter)? To get faster? To get stronger? Whatever you’re training  for, I’m here to tell you this: no training plan is complete without a speed workout. Speed workouts are the most crucial part of a training plan for runners, and they provide immense benefits for you Fit Girls who don’t consider yourselves “runners” (although I like to believe that everyone is a runner; they maybe don’t know it yet).

Why Speed Workouts are Necessary For Runners

No matter what distance you’re training for, speed workouts are great. They teach your body how to adapt to running at a faster pace.

Speed workouts can be done by any runner at any pace. Each person’s “fast” pace will be different. There are several gears all athletes/runners need to be able to shift between. 5k pace for one runner will not be the same for the next. Mile pace for somebody else could be even slower. Speed workouts provide the structure for the workout, and anybody, at any fitness level, can complete them. It is all about the effort you put in.

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Speed workouts are measurable. It is so easy to track intervals during this type of workout. You can make sure you’re keeping pace, shifting between paces, and track your progress. Go run a timed mile. Commit to doing between one and three speed workouts per week. Run a timed mile again in eight weeks. YOU WILL SEE IMPROVEMENT.

You can do them anywhere. I love running on the track. I love 200m sprints. 400m sprints are even better. 800m I don’t care for… but that’s besides the point. Even if you don’t have access to a track, you can do speed workouts in a park, on a road, or on the treadmill. Don’t live near a track? Do a fartlek (Swedish for “speed play”) run and change paces between each spotlight. Live near a park? Do 800m repeats around a baseball field. Don’t like running outside? Get on a treadmill and do an awesome interval workout. I have done speed workouts in each of these environments. They are all very different experiences—track is my favorite—but they are all extremely effective.

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How Speed Workouts Benefit Other Athletes

Speed workouts not only make you a faster runner, they help :

  1. Build endurance
  2. Increase strength
  3. Use muscles that usually lie otherwise dormant

Have you ever looked at the body of an Olympic sprinter? They have no body fat. And I’m not here to promise that’s what you’ll look like. But interval training has been shown to burn fat because you’re working anaerobically during short sprints and aerobically during recovery and longer intervals.

When you sprint, you run very differently than when you jog. You tend to strike more with the front third of your foot, utilize your quads and hamstrings for more power, and use your arms much more. You’re using different muscles. How could I forget your butt? Sprints make your butt look awesome.

If you don’t like the monotony of running, interval training is a great way to make running more enjoyable and manageable. You only have to run for a short duration at a time, and you get all these benefits!

Here lies my argument for why speed workouts should be the centerpiece of every training plan. If this inspired you to go try it, I’ve included a sample speed workout to be done on a track or treadmill below.

Happy Running, Fit Girls ☺

Track Workout Treadmill workout
800 @ 10k2 min rest 4 min @ 10k2 min rest
400 @ 5k2 min rest 2 min @ 5k2 min rest
4×200 @ Mile30 sec rest b/w each 4×30 sec @ Mile30 sec rest b/w each
400 @ 5k2 min rest 2 min @ 5k2 min rest
800 @ 10k2 min rest 4 min @ 10k2 min rest
800m cool down jog 5 min cool down jog

 

 

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Things to Remember

  • Go on your own pace. Don’t try and run at an unsustainable pace. The goal is to finish the workout. It’s not a competition. Know what your 10k pace, 5k pace, and mile pace are. Know what you want them to be.
  • Recovery is just as important, if not more important, than the interval itself. USE IT. Put your hands above your head, recover your breath, and slow your heart rate down.
  • Mix things up. If you’re on the treadmill, play with the incline. It subtly changes the workout and makes it more challenging. Don’t get used to a routine. Run on different surfaces as much as possible.
  • Have FUN. Bring a friend. Challenge each other. Challenge yourself. Record your results. Watch the change happen.

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Comments

  1. Iris_fitgirl

    Nice article. Def gonna give it a try.