Speed, or an attempt at it anyway

It's that time of the week again, TIaRT!

It's funny, the man friend just asked me this last night as we were taking his dog for a walk, "so why do you need to do speed work when you're training for a marathon?" He's a cyclist predominantly so you'll have to forgive him. I explained that essentially, pushing yourself to do intervals, repeats, threshold type workouts in which you run shorter distances faster than you can sustain for a few miles helps to increase your pace overall.

I'm lucky to have the opportunity to train with a group of runners and a coach (for free) on Thurs nights through our local running store to do speed workouts. We get an email early in the week telling us what the torture workout for the week will be. There's always a short and long version. Last week's workout was: 1 mi warm up, strides, 2x 2 mile repeats (w/ 2min rest in between), 4 x 100s, 1 mi cool down.

I think the key to speed workouts is really being able to push yourself. Without a watch, real determination or other runners pushing your pace, working on speed can be a challenge. Training for my first marathon I did all my speed and hill work alone and let me tell you, it was hard. Great, but hard. I had to be mentally ready to work every Tues/Thurs either on the track, the hill for 90 sec uphill repeats, or the road for tempo workouts. The advantage of doing speed with a group is that on those days I feel like I'll never make it another 1/4 mile, I do because we've all made the same commitment to suffer together.

So my tips for speed are less about exactly what you should do (b/c for that you should ask a coach or follow a training guide), but rather how to do it. I suggest finding a group and I suggest finding some real inner strength. Oh and expect to feel like crap while you're doing it, but know that the reward of completing the workout and your increased speed as a result, will be all worth it.


raulgonemobile said…
That's cool that you get such an opportunity every week. I could see where having a group makes it more tolerable.
Amber said…
I wanted to join a running group but the one here was definitely not free and it was way too costly for me.

I was doing speed workouts on the track when I had a gym membership, but now that I've been doing all my runs around my neighbourhood I've slacked off big time on speed. I do hills every single run though... In April I'll be at my mom's house for a couple weeks so I'm going to do some speed on her treadmill!
Anonymous said…
I love that you have such a great running group! There's one around here, but they meet Sunday afternoons, which is usually when I'm either at Target or on the couch watching crappy TV-show marathons. ;) and it's not Free either. Although I'm sure I could shell out the $20 per yr fee if I knew I was staying in the area.

also - great tips! I need to get back into Hill-workouts. They definitely help!
J said…
That is great that you are able to a part of the running club! I agree having ppl run with you to push you is a great thing!
I'm with you on the running groups. I run much better with a coach/leader. While I would run on my own anyway, I'm just more motivated when someone else sets the agenda!

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