This new thing called speedwork.

So, per the workout plan I came up with last week, Mondays are my ‘speed work’ days.

road runner

I don’t know how to speed work.  I’ve never focused on increasing my speed, and every time I see something like 8 x 400 in a training plan, I skip it because I have no clue what it means.

Well, until this morning, I didn’t know what those crazy numbers meant.  A few things I found out (that you smarties might already know and be aware of and actually do):

400 means about a quarter of a mile

800 means about a half of a mile

1600 is then, obviously, a mile

When you speed train, you do specified distance (400 aka 1/4 mile) that many times (aka 8), with a ‘break’ in between. 

So, I’ve talked a lot about how I got really slow when I was training for the marathon, because eventually, I was just worrying about completing distances, not so much pace/ mile.  Plus, with my injury, it’s been kind of a wreck around here lately and I felt stuck, for lack of a better word.  

I looked up a bunch of plans and read up on a bunch of jibberish, and because of my last 10k time (51:30), I was going to set my goal for under 50 minute 10k (which is March 31…), and hope that this training will also help my half marathon time (March 18). 

So my first non coached speed work session was:

1 mile warm up 6.7mph

Repeat 6 times- 

1/2 mile at 8.1- 8.5mph

1/4 mile at 6.7 mph

(So- total of 4.5 miles in intervals)

1 mile cool down at 6.7 mph

I ended up completing a 6.5 mile run in 53 minutes.  Not too shabby for my first time, considering 3 of those miles were all under 7:30 minute miles, which seems amazing to me.  I don’t know how people keep that up for 26 miles. 

It was hard.  That’s what she said.  But for real, it was tough to keep the speed up for 1/2 mile intervals, but now that I’ve done it, I know I can do it again, and maybe for longer of a distance or faster of a pace. 

After my run I walked for a few minutes before doing about 15 minutes of stretching- a new record for me.  I feel good and will probably be a little sore tomorrow, but I plan on doing this every Monday, and hopefully decreasing my time for distance run.

Plus, it felt great to actually have a plan when getting to the gym, rather than wandering around like a homeless person.

Anyway, in other news, there’s only 4 more workdays until the weekend… soooo that’s a plus, right?  And, it’s only 15 days until my birthday…not that I’m counting down or anything.

The kids were absolutely nuts today, a first for a Monday this school year.  I’m not sure if it’s because it’s been 6 weeks since Christmas or because it’s one day before Valentine’s… either way, it drained me and I’m ready for bed… or wine, or ice cream, or trashy tv… decisions.


Do you ever do speed work?  Have you gotten faster since starting?



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6 responses to “This new thing called speedwork.

  1. I skipped speed work when training for my first marathon but worked on it for the next one. i saw some improvement in my speed but i also included a lot more core work so i know that made a difference as well. most of my speed work was done on a track to make it easier to keep up with the distances but you can do it on the street too if you have a garmin or know the distances in a specific area.
    when our coaches worked with us on speed, they told us to focus on running consistent split times. go here and figure out what your goal should be for each distance.

    I put in 49:00 for a 10k and it says you should run the following splits:
    Middle Distance Runners Long Distance Runners
    400m 1:41 to 1:45 1:43 to 1:49
    800m 3:27 to 3:36 3:36 to 3:46
    1000m 4:30 to 4:43 4:37 to 4:47
    1200m 5:25 to 5:39 5:32 to 5:49
    1600m 7:23 to 7:40 7:32 to 7:49

    do an easy warm up mile and then start your splits. come to complete recovery between each (HR back to pre-warmup rate). at the end of each split, you should have the same time. it takes a couple workouts to get the feel for how hard to push yourself so you can run them consistently and still have a little gas in the tank. remember, those times are “goals” so you may not actually be able to run them at first but you should get closer with each workout. don’t forget to stretch after and don’t do speed work in back to back workouts.

    let me know if you want my old speed workouts. happy to forward along.

  2. I just decided to incorporate it in, so I’ve been doing it every Thursday. I figure that will make me like the road runner in no time!

  3. Kerry

    I suggest doing them on a track as well. Its a lot easier to push yourself because you can see the end in sight the entire time. It may be frustrating at first because you feel like the lap will never end but I prefer that over speedwork outs on a treadmill. Plus I just feel like I have better form because I can stretch it out more naturally without worrying about falling off the treadmill and I am not constantly starring down at the distance. Just a thought.

    • treadmills are the devil! they are bad, bad, BAD for natural running form. stick to the outdoors. the natural terrain is more challenging and you’re less likely to develop a nasty habit. also, keep in mind that speed should mean cadence and foot turnover, not stride length.

  4. I have stopped doing speed work since I have started training for the marathon. I still do faster, temp runs, but have left the track behind. I miss it! This summer I went to the track every Tues. to do speed work and I was so impressed with the results. I am definitely going to bring it back into my life after my marathon.

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