Need for Speed


This morning I spent the 6 a.m. predawn hour doing something that I do not exactly love…speed-work.  Oh goodness does the need for speed kill me.  Currently I am training for my 3rd half marathon in March (WOO HOO!!) and everyone knows if you want to improve your time you need to work on different areas of your running, obviously one of them being speed.

My first half marathon I finished in 2:09:15.  I was very proud of this because A. it was my FIRST ever 13.1 mile run and B. a mere year before that I had been binge drinking for St. Patrick’s Day at the best Big 10 school in the country 🙂  When I signed up for my second half marathon (to take place November 2011, 8 months later in Charlotte, NC) I decided that I wanted more…I wanted a time goal.  So I began training. AND the training was different.  More miles, speed-work, tempo runs, longer runs, easier runs etc. etc.  But boy did it work. My second half marathon I finished in 1:51:24.  Are you kidding me?! I attribute a lot of this success to being very dedicated to my training schedule and the need for speed.

My point is–if you are ready for a time goal and not merely a “finish the race” goal you are going to need to incorporate different types of workouts. Runner’s World Smart Coach  is a great tool and place to start to figure out when you should incorporate speed-work and tempo runs based on your training intensity, weekly mileage, past race performance, and long run days.

Example Runner's World Plan from Smart Coach

Not only will you need a training calendar to tell you when to do your workouts, but you will definitely need some tips to get you through them. Based on my experience here is my advice to anyone new to speed-work (or anyone who simply suffers through it)

  • Bring your iPod and have a really good playlist ready: Music will definitely get you through those speedy 1600s, much better than the silence of the universe will. Unless you are really into the whole “I feel the world when I run and nothing in my ear will ever help me,” thing. If you are, ignore this.
  • Fuel up: Make sure you eat something small before your workout (peanut butter on toast is my go to) and DEFINITELY drink water or have a low-calorie sports drink near by. I sweat A LOT during speed-work so I usually down G2.
  • Use a sports watch or run on the dreadmill: If you have a GPS watch or even a stopwatch that is awesome, use it. I have a Garmin 210 and I LOVE it, but I don’t do speed outside.  See most days I do speed really early in the morning therefore making it slightly dangerous to do it outside alone and also just way harder.  So, yes, DUN DUN DUN…I use the dreadmill. But honestly it helps me so much. I am able to amp up at the speeds that I am supposed to for the length of time that I have to.  Although it is not ideal it gets it done and I feel great afterwards. Plus I get to “race” people next to me on the dreadmill, which always makes for a good time in my own head.

  • Encourage yourself:When you are on your second 1600 and you can feel the heat in your legs, remember that you only have one or two (hopefully) more of these repeats and then you are DONE!  You are your own worst enemy with speed workouts (or any high intensity workout) so keeping positive thoughts going and encouraging yourself will get you through the repeats flawlessly.

So, keep your need for speed.  As you are crossing the half marathon finish line sub 2 hours one day, you will thank yourself.

Happy Valentine’s Running Day!


One thought on “Need for Speed

  1. Pingback: Happy Hump Day « runfootinfrontoftheother

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