Get faster with REAL speed work, not just interval trainingNick Willis
Interval training is not speed work.
So often people refer to interval training as speed work, but by in large, it’s not speed, it’s pace training. If you’re training for a 5k, or even a mile, those repeat four-hundreds are just getting your body accustomed to race pace.
True speed training for distance runners should mean working on sprint speed, utilizing distances shorter than two hundred meters (with a full recovery between), so you can fully tap into your fast twitch fibers and realize your maximum speed. The faster your maximum speed, the more relaxed your race pace training will feel. Sprint training, far more than stretching, is also the most effective way to increase range of motion in your stride. You’ll feel faster, more dynamic, and more free flowing following a weekly (or bi-weekly) dose of this key component to any successful running program.
Here’s a simple plan to get started with speed training:
Once a week do: 4-6 x 80m strides on the track or 4-6 x 10 second hill sprints up a steep slope (alternate with track and hills every other week)
- Take full recovery (3-5 minutes between each sprint)
- Start off at a comfortable effort (about 60%) and pick up the speed each successive sprint as your muscles get more and more warmed up. You don’t want to risk pulling a muscle by going too hard on the first couple of sprints
- Use a rolling start. Slowly jog into the start of each sprint by beginning 20-30m behind the your real start line.
- Make sure your muscles are warmed up beforehand by doing a 15-20 minute warm-up jog, or doing these after an easy run. Wear an extra layer over your legs unless it is really hot.
- Gradually transition to lightweight footwear. Wear regular running shoes first week, then racing flats the next week, then gradually transition to spikes to avoid injury
- Focus on good mechanics over actual speed.
Once you master these simple sprint workouts, you can then get more advanced with sprint and hurdle drills, and also resistance training (check back for future posts on these more advanced training methods).