Its easy to come up with an excuse for avoiding speedwork - everyone knows that running as fast as you can is hard work - but the rewards for putting in the effort can be worth it.
Wheather you want to find your normal pace easier to manager, to have a burst of speed (a 'kick') to end a race - or to just get that stubburn PB down a bit - speed work can be the key.
If you are new to speed work - here are a few tips to remember:
Ease into it When you started running, you ran for just a couple of miles every other day, and have gradually built up to your current mileage. You didn’t suddenly start running 35 miles a week, so adopt the same approach to speedwork. Put at least three months of steady running behind you, then start with just one session every 10 days or so.
Not too hard Speed sessions aren’t about sprinting flat out until you’re sick.(unless that's what you really want to do!) They’re about controlling hard efforts and spreading your energy evenly over a set distance or time, just like you would in a perfect race.
Warm up and warm down Before each session, jog for at least 8-10 minutes to raise your blood temperature, increase bloodflow to the muscles and psyche yourself up for fast running. Follow that with some gentle stretching and then run a few fast strides before getting down to the tough stuff. Afterwards, jog for another 5-10 minutes, before stretching once again.
Find a partner Speedwork takes more effort and willpower than going out for a gentle jog. It’s much easier and more fun to train with someone else – and if you really want to improve, try running with someone just a bit quicker than you.
Quality not quantity Speed training should not account for more than 15 per cent of your total mileage. So slot in your speed sessions around the regular work you’ve been doing all along.
The club run regular Fartlek, Track and Speed and Stamina sessions - which is a great way to give 'speed work' a try!