Friday’s Tip of the Week – Speed Work

Aaahhh…the quest for speed! At some point in your running life, you’re going to have the desire to increase your speed. Some have stronger desires than others, and some who don’t think they’d ever care at all will eventually find that they want a new personal best. There are many things that you can do to increase your speed and they range from fartleks (and yes, I snicker every time I say it), interval training, track work, drills, and tempo runs.

Below, I have complied a list of great exercises and drills that I have found online that I have found to be beneficial.

Fartlek (teehee)

Jennifer Van Allen from Runners World states: Fartlek:  Means ‘speed play’ in Swedish. The speed of running varies by alternating surges of high intensity running with periods of easy running. It differs from interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed can be varied whenever the athlete wishes. This is great if you don’t have access to a track, or if you are introducing speed work into your training for the first time. You can use time or even lamp posts as markers. {source}

I was introduced to the fartlek by my “Running mama” Bernadette. She would have me run as fast as I can to the next lamp post, and then when I reached it, I would slow down while she ran as fast as she could to catch up to me, then I would burst out, then she would, and so on and so forth. I admit, fartleks are a lot of fun with a friend!

Drills

Last training season we ran drills back and forth inside the track before we did our speed work. Drills help develop body awareness so that strengthen specific muscles that you use for running, and help improve your running form. The key to drills are to do them consistently. The following are nine drills that are illustrated in Competitor Running. {source}

Photo: Mark Doolittle Photography

Photo: Mark Doolittle Photography

Need a little more? Here are just 3 of the 39 sessions of speed work that you can try on and off the track from Runners World UK. You defintinly want to check out the entire article. There’s plenty to chose from ranging from beginner to the advance.

  • Pyramid sessions: so called because you start with a short distance, gradually increase, and then come back down again. These, as well as the following two sessions – are ideal if you’re planning a few track races. For example, start at 120m, add 20m to each rep until you reach 200m, and then come back down to 120m. Run these at 400m pace, with a walk-back recovery.
  • Fast reps of 200m or 300m: run 6-10 x 200m, with two- to three-minute recoveries, or 5-8 x 300m, with four- to five-minute recoveries. Start both at 800m pace, eventually running the last reps flat out. You can also combine the two, for example 3 x 200m, 2 x 300m, 3 x 200m.
  • Simulation session: in theory this should replicate an 800m race. Run two sets of either 500m + 300m, or 600m + 200m, at your target 800m pace, with 60 seconds or less to recover between each rep and 10 minutes between sets.
  •  Three sets of: 400m at your 3K pace, then a 30-second rest; 400m, 20-second rest; 400m, 10-second rest; 400m. Jog 400m in three minutes between each set.

Next week I’ll post some tips on ankle strengthening exercises.

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