Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"Speed" Work

This morning I hammered my way through my first attempt at running a real speed interval workout:

1 Mile Warm Up @ 9:30/mi
4x800m @ 7:24/mi + 400m @10:30/mi Recovery
1 Mile Cool down @ 10:00/mi

In order to have some luck at actually maintaining an even pace, I decided to run this workout on the treadmill at the hotel her in Redmond. The hotel only has two treadmills, but at 5:00 AM there wasn’t a whole lot of competition for the machines.

Speed is such as relative term. As I was cruising along at a 7:24/mi pace, I got thinking that for fellow blogger Mike, this pace was just an easy jog through the park. It certainly felt really good to run at this speed, even if it was only for 3 and ½ minutes at a shot.

My heart rate stayed reasonably under control during the workout. Max rate worked up to 155 during the interval run and dropped back to the 132 range during the recovery jogs. I kept the overall HR at 133 during the cool down and didn’t pay much attention to pace.

Other than a few twinges in my right knee, this workout seemed to do what it was intended to do. It got me moving a whole lot faster than I’ve been training for the past two months. In fact, going back through my training log I realized that it was the fastest workout I’ve done in the past 2 years. You can teach an old dog new tricks after all.

Keep running

Training for the week:

Sun – 7.4 Miles, easy, 9:18/mi pace
Mon – 6.1 Miles, easy, 9:22/mi pace
Tue - 6.1 Miles, easy, 9:18/mi pace
Wed - 5.0 Miles, Speed Interval, 9:02/mi pace


wildiris said...

Is there an all-weather track at a high school or college campus in your area? That's by far the best place to do speed workouts.

I realize what works for one person doesn't always work for someone else, but for what it's worth, here is the speed workout routine I use.

I take my best mile pace over the last few weeks of tempo runs, divide it by 2 and subtract 5 seconds. That's my 800m interval time. I take that 800m interval time, divide by 2 and subtract 5 seconds, and that's my 400m time. Do that again to get a 200m interval time. Then, after about 10 to 15 minutes of warmup, I do a mix of 4x800m, 4x400m and 4x200m intervals. I do that twice a week. (I've tried more often, but all it got me was tired!) There are more than a few days when I just don't feel up to it, so I do 400's instead of 800's at the 800m pace, or 200's instead of 400's at the 400m pace. The point is that if it doesn't feel good, then stop your speed work and just run some easier laps.

Actually, I think the term speed work is a misnomer. It's more about strength and form. Just running intervals as fast as you can is a great way to injure youself. The way I use these workouts is to pick a pace just slightly faster than I'm currently running, then practice holding that pace, paying attention to my form and how it feels. If I start to get fatigued to the point I can't hold my form, that's the point I quit my workout.

One of the unexpected things I noticed after I started doing speed work was that the aches and pains that used to bother me went away. My guess is that as my stride got stronger and more balanced (right to left), I stopped doing those little quirks in my running form that were causing those chronic injuries.

The other benefit from speed work is that you'll be able to hold a steady pace during a race, despite what all of the runners around you are doing.

P.S. If you want to feel really bad about your pace, there is a 63 year old masters runner in my area who still does 70-75 sec 400m intervals as part of his workout!

Phil said...

Thanks for the advice.

I don't have an open track near me. There are, of course, several high schools within 5 miles of the house, but they all keep their facilities locked up.

I agree with your comment concerning Speed intervals. Running around as fast as you can will only lead to injuries. I selected the pace for my first attempt at running intervals by taking my avg pace from my last 5k. This felt pretty good yesterday. I know I eventually push it a little faster than my 3 mile pace, but I'm in no rush and don't want to get hurt.

Thanks again,