Speed and Interval training.

15 Nov

Speed and Interval training:

If you want to get faster and improve your race results one key workout each week is speed/interval training. This happens to be my favorite workout each week during a training cycle.

Speed/interval training can be done in many ways the key is to wake up those fast twitch muscle fibers and train the body to turn over at a faster rate than desired goal race pace. You ask why I would want to train and run shorter bursts faster than I want to race at. Answer is in order to make that desired “goal race pace” feel easy and sustainable for your event I believe you need to do some shorter bursts at a faster speed to make that desired goal pace feel easy.

I believe you have to teach the body how to go anaerobic and push it to its limit and do this repeatedly with short rest in between the intervals so that you also build endurance and strength in the process. As you do these intervals the body will get stronger and eventually you will get faster and be able to push yourself harder and harder.

I love to test the runners I coach at the beginning of a training cycle in some various distances that we will run on the track over the course of the training cycle. Then throughout the training cycle I test them again and see where their progress is. This helps me work with them on race pace and can they run their desired race pace and not get injured and sustain it for the duration of their event. This past training cycle it was really fun to see the progress from the runners and how much faster they got from the first test to the second test.

Living in a place like Minnesota also means a lot of treadmill miles in cold and snowy winter months. No better way to pass time on a treadmill than with interval training. I have a number of workouts prescribed for the treadmills that I do that runners I coach do and besides making us faster it makes the time fly by while running on those dreaded machines.

One thing with interval training is be careful on how you do it, when you do it and make sure your body is ready for it to avoid injury. Many runners come up injured during a track workout they fatigue the body which is good to learn how to run fast on tired legs but when the body becomes fatigued the running form often starts to fall apart and thus can lead to injury. So always keep focus on your form and don’t over stride which I see as the most common way a runner hurts themselves during a speed session. Keep the body under your center mass and stay in an upright position and core tight. And make sure you follow the workout and allow the prescribed rest time between intervals.

When planning out a speed session in your weekly training plan make sure that it does not fall the day before say a long run or the day after and make sure the day after a speed session is a recovery type workout like an easy aerobic run or maybe some cross training like a swim? The only “speed” type workouts I do like that you can follow up the day after a long run is a tempo run something which is running 90% of desired race pace. During marathon training I do a lot of 10 mile tempo runs the day after my long run. My goal is train my body to run at a fast race like pace when it’s tired and fatigued the way it will feel at mile 20 of a marathon. When doing this typically I would have done my long run the day before at a 30-40 seconds per mile pace slower than desired race pace so that I did not stress my body too much for the following days hard effort. Then the 10 miles is broken into 2-3 miles of easy warm-up pace, then 5-6 miles of “tempo” pace and then 2-3 miles of cool down easy pace.

Try adding in some speed/interval training into your next training cycle and reap the rewards! It’s hard and you may curse at times during those hard efforts you may even puke a little? But after your done you will feel so good and then in your next race you will see the results and the huge payoff from this type of training.

Happy Running!
Coach MB
USA Track and Field Level One Certified coach

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One Response to “Speed and Interval training.”

  1. Jenina November 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    I always try to incorporate a day of speed training, but a tempo run the day after a long run seems really intimidating! It sounds like it would make sense, especially since I am now training for a marathon but doesn’t make it sound less daunting. Thanks for the tip!

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