Speed training (or interval training) is high-intensity training sessions that improve your running efficiency and will help shave minutes off your race times. There are so many benefits to speed training. And you don't need a track to do speed training. Simply pick minute intervals or mark off .25 miles or .5 miles on a road or sidewalk. Some of our favorite workouts are: 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min (with same recovery time), 8x400 meters (.25 mile) and 5x800 meters (.5 mile). Make any road your track!
How do speed workouts improve your running?
1. Build Strength - Speed work gets fast-twitch muscle fibers firing, and recruits more muscles than slow runs do.
2. Faster Feet - When you run at a fast pace, your feet turn over at a more rapid rate. With enough practice, this quicker cadence becomes more natural, which means you'll need less effort to move faster on any run.
3. Improve Stamina - Speed sessions help maximize your aerobic capacity. When you hit a fast pace, you force the heart to pump oxygen through the body at a quicker rate. Over time, that makes your heart stronger, so it can deliver more oxygen to the muscles, and helps your muscles use oxygen more efficiently.
4. Run Stronger and Longer - By sustaining a comfortably hard effort, you condition your body to hold a faster pace for longer before lactic acid—the waste produced when the body burns glucose—starts accumulating. That helps stave off the burning sensation that's so often linked with running hard.
5. Make the Joy of Running Last - Even if you don't care about getting fast, you'll enjoy the post track euphoria and the fitness gains that go along with speed work. When you're fitter, you can cover the same miles with less effort and bust through plateaus.