Speed Work

It’s scary and confusing and who really has time to punch numbers and know their paces? I’ve been there… the elusive 10-minute mile stuck as my average pace. But speed work doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be reserved for experts. I promised that I would jot down a few workouts that I have done to improve my speed (which ultimately is increasing VO2Max along with a lot of other things that allow your body to move faster, longer).
If you’re a beginner I suggest swapping one of your weekly 3 – 5 mike runs with one of these workouts. You don’t have to do the whole thing the first time but you will have to push a little harder than usual. Pick one of the workouts and do it four weeks in a row. Measure the time it takes you to complete it the first week and take your time again the last week. Or, you can measure by effort. How did you feel after the first set you completed? Ok, how about by week four? 

Shoot me a message if something doesn’t make sense!

200-Meter repeats

Start with a 10-minute warm up jog. When you are done with a warm up and dynamic stretch, start by running moderately hard to hard for 200 meters (if you are on a track this will be half way around the loop). The hard pace should be faster than your 5k race pace sense the distance is so short.

If you don’t have a track and you are on a trail or road, you can go by time. For example run hard for 30-45 seconds). Recover by walking or jogging easy for 200 meters (or 2 min) and repeat.

3 – 4 repeats is a good starting point for beginners. Try 5 – 6 if you are in moderately good shape.

Jog a 10 min cool down. 

400-Meter repeats

These are my favorite and my least favorite. They are easier than 200’s to do on a treadmill if you prefer your speed work indoor since it will be exactly .25mile.

Start with a 10 min warm up and dynamic stretches.

Run hard (not a full out sprint but a pace that you wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation) for 400 meters or 1 lap around the track. Recover by jogging 400 meters.

Repeat cycle 3 – 4 times the first week and see if you can either add an extra repeat each week OR shorten the recover to 200 meters instead of the full 400. 

*If you are training for a 10k or longer an 800-meter repeat can be helpful as well. This is done exactly like the others but at a slightly slower pace.  

Fartlek by Time

This is another one of my favorites and can be done on a track or treadmill or just outside. It can also be done in a run / walk pattern or a run hard / run recover pattern.

Start with a 10 min warm up.

Run hard for one minute, run easy for 2 minutes, run hard for 2 minutes, run easy for 1 min. Repeat 3 – 4 times the first week and build on a cycle each week.

For a run walk you would just replace the running hard with a jog and the easy run with walking.


No Bolognese (more advanced)

I have no idea if this is a technical term but it is what my coach called this indoor workout for when it was lightening outside (which happened often during the spring in East Texas).

Run for 10 min on the treadmill and take note of how far you got in the 10 minutes (.75 miles or 1.25 miles etc).

Then get on a bike and up the resistance enough that the screen says RPE of at least 5 – 6 (maybe higher if you are in good shape). The point is to keep your heart rate up. As long as you are peddling fast enough and against enough resistance that you are breathing hard and it’s hard to talk to people in full sentences, you are doing it right. Bike for 10 more minutes total.

Right when the 10 minutes is up, get back on the treadmill for another 10 minute run but try to go farther in the that 10 minutes than you did the first time.

Now back to the bike.

One final cycle of treadmill and bike makes this a 60-minute work out! You should feel very fatigued.

The point speed work is that it has to feel hard in order for your body to adapt. Our bodies won’t change if what they are doing is enough to support the load you are asking them to too. But, if you can get comfortable being uncomfortable, just for 30 minutes or an hour a week, your body will have to make some changes (more blood plasma, more oxygen carrying blood cells, more efficient disposal of lactate etc), and THAT is when you start to get faster.

Anyone else have any fun workouts they’ve done?


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