Speed Training

Easy ways to warm up

For many of us, we roll out of bed to run or bolt out the door after work. In both those scenarios, and probably countless others, our bodies have been in a state of rest or static for a long period of time. Running is a jarring activity, thus, you want to ease your body into your run. A fast walk or slow jog works well. Do that for about 2 minutes or a few blocks and then pick it up.

If you feel like your legs are not turning over or if the run is a faster run, you will want to do a few extra exercises to warm up the body. Here are 2 of our favorites that are easy to implement and do as part of your mileage. Do each exercise 2x for 30 seconds (or 1 full city block).

High Knees

Butt Kicks

For a more complete warm up routine, check out our dynamic stretching for runners. Dynamic stretching is a great way to warm up before running because the movements take the joint and muscles through motions, getting them ready to fire, as opposed to static which is designed to relax muscles. We recommend this before any track or interval workout.


How Speed Workouts Improve Your Running

With fall marathon season in full swing many runners, both seasoned marathons and newbies, are taking to the track for some faster paced running. Ever wonder if it's worth it? Here are five reasons why interval workouts are for every marathoner:

1. Build Strength
Speed work gets fast-twitch muscle fibers firing, and recruits more muscles than slow runs do. As you lengthen your stride to sprint, you engage your glutes, hip flexors, and extensors. This improves range of motion and helps alleviate tightness.

2. Faster Feet
When you run a fast pace, your feet turn over at a more rapid rate. So 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.

track

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.

The Do Anywhere Speed Workout

by Meghan Reynolds

We created this workout for people who are short on time, don't have access to a track and want to lose weight. It consists of alternating speed and recovery intervals, i.e. a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workout. HIIT workouts increase your metabolism and bring a new quickness to your running. Your body burns more fat and calories after a HIIT workout than you do after a long run. This type of a workout is a great way train efficiently without having to buy a lot of equipment.

Here's the workout: warm up with a 10-15 minute easy jog and then do 2-3 rounds of this set: 120 seconds, 90 seconds, 60 seconds and 30 second speed intervals with a 1-minute recovery jog in between each speed interval.  Aim for a consistent pace within each speed interval and to be able to maintain the same pace for each one. Rest for about 2-3 minutes between each set. Run at least 1/2 mile as cool down and then stretch.

What is the appropriate pace for the speed intervals? That is up to and depends on your pace. We recommend running at 80% of your max heart rate. This is not an all out sprint - just below that. You should be able to finish each interval without feeling like you have to bend over to catch your breath or throw up. I let my breath guide me: when I'm wheezing (or my breath is raspy), I'm running too fast.  When we say recovery jog, we mean a SLOW recovery jog. It's more like a shuffle (without getting sloppy on your form). Seriously. 

To complete this workout all you need is a watch and maybe some fun tunes to help you pick it up on the speed intervals and get your feet to turn over faster. Have questions, feel free to reach out to us.

Have fun!

2 Great Alternatives to the Track


 by Jessica Green

Whether you have access to a track should not determine whether you are able to complete your track workouts during marathon training.  Certain workouts are designated for the track because a track provides precise, quarter-mile distance markers and a flat surface perfect for uninterrupted running and accurate feedback about your pace and times. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic for a lot of people to get to a track once a week for their track workouts. For some, it’s because a track is not nearby, and, for others, it’s because the thought of running around a track is very unappealing (to the latter, I recommend training in a group at the track - it's much more motivating).

Whoever you are, if you can’t get to a track, try these two alternatives to the track to get the most of out of your designated "track workouts." 

(1) Find a flat pedestrian path or trail with quarter-mile markers.  Most track workouts can be broken down into quarter-mile distances such as 400s, 800s, 1200, 1600s, etc.  Many cities have running paths with distance markers.  With the distances all marked out, all you need is a timer to track your workouts.  If your city doesn’t have a path with distances marked out, don’t be afraid to bring some chalk and make your own during your warm up.

(2) Set up your GPS watch to auto lap at .25 miles rather than 1-mile. This works well when you can’t find any distance markers. Plus, it provides you with your quarter-mile splits during longer speed intervals. This is important because it allows you to monitor whether you are running at a consistent pace or starting out slow and finishing fast or vice versa. 

Marathon Training - Week 8 = Speed

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Half way through marathon training and I'm feeling good. This week was all about speed and yoga. Since I'm on a bit of a vacation until my new job starts at the end of August, I'm using my days off to check out yoga classes and get everything ready to move.

On Monday I did an easy morning run along the waterfront with Liz. I then did an easy yoga class at Core Power Yoga. I felt great after the yoga class. As you all know, my hamstrings are really tight and finally getting into a yoga class showed me just how tight - I could barely get my fingertips to the floor! I had to bend my knees a lot. This is unusual for me; I use to be able to get my palms flat on the floor.

Tuesday, Jessica and I met for a track workout. We did 6x800s. It was hot but a great workout. I completed all of them in my pace zone. It was tough but I did it. Jessica did a cruise workout and stayed behind me which was great because I got coaching and she gave me some insights into how I run repeats.

Wednesday was my cross training day and I did 2 yoga classes. It was great and I felt so much better when I woke up on Thursday morning. My hamstrings were sore but not tight. I did an easy run to Grant Park where I babysat Lucia while Jessica coached. We are working on getting Lucia to run (just kidding, she's working on walking first!)

Friday was my race pace run. We did 6 miles at 7:30ish pace. It was a tough workout. I'm planning on doing 3 more before the marathon, building up to 12 miles at race pace. My race pace is going to be a hard one for me - it's a bit of a stretch. Saturday was yoga and Sunday was a 4 mile run with 2 miles at race pace thrown in - just for the hell of it.

On to week #9!

 

3 Speed Workouts to Get You Ready to Race

Spring is on the horizon which means longer days and races! Get ready for some springtime race action with 3 of our favorite speed workouts. What we love about these is that you can incorporate them into one of your runs - no need to find a track. Good luck in all of your spring races!

Why do you need speed?
Adding 1 day of speed work into your weekly routine will benefit you in a number of ways:

  • it keeps your legs fresh and gets them ready to race,
  • it gets your heart rate up and will help you lose weight,
  • it reminds your neuromuscular system (the brain & nervous system) what it's like to run quickly; this system in turns tells your muscles to respond.

1) Pick Ups:

This is a quick and easy way to boost your fitness and remind your legs what it's like to turnover quickly. This will help you on race day so you aren't asking your legs to go faster than they have in several months. Do this workout once per week.

  • Warm up for 10-15 minutes at an easy pace
  • 10 minutes alternating 20 seconds of quick striding (think 5k pace) with 1 minute at an easy pace
  • Cool down for 10 minutes at an easy pace

2) Strides
We love strides because you can add them into any workout for an extra jolt of energy or use them to get your legs ready for a race or track workout. Do your regularly scheduled run (easy or medium effort run) and then add in 4-6 strides at the end. A stride is a controlled acceleration and deceleration. As you begin your stride, gradually accelerate to about 85 percent of your maximum speed for the first third of the stride, hold that pace for another third, and then gradually decelerate over the final third. Don't time the strides and the exact distance isn't critical. Walk or slowly jog back to your starting position.

3) Stairs
You either just jumped for joy or grimaced. Stairs are usually not a runner's friend. However, running stairs is a great way to improve your foot speed and quickness. Stairs are steeper than most hills so by running stairs, you force your body to use more oxygen and convert it to energy faster. Do this once per week.

  • Warm up for 10-15 minutes at an easy pace
  • Run fast up a set of stairs for at least 20-30 seconds. Walk or jog slowly back down. Repeat for 10 minutes
  • Cool down for 10 minutes at an easy pace

Tip of the Week: Make the Road Your Track

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.

FunDay Friday Workout - Intervals

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This is one of our favorite, go-to interval workouts when we aren't near a track and need to add some variety to our runs.

The speed/fast portion should be done at 80% max which is a very fast effort but not a sprint. You should be able to recover and jog SLOWLY after each fast repeat. If you have to walk or have a pukey feeling after one of the repeats, you ran too fast.

If you are new to speed/interval workouts, do 2 sets of the pyramid with a 2 min break between sets. Build up to 3 sets.

Enjoy and happy (fast) running!

Base Training - Changing up the Pace

Preparing for fall race season isn't just about building up strength and mileage. It's about quality mileage. At least once a week, start reintroducing faster paced runs into your routine with interval training and tempo runs at half marathon effort.  Why? By easing structured speed back into your routine before official training begins, you prepare the mind and body for the harder, faster, higher intensity speed and stamina workouts in the months ahead.  As a result, you'll be ready to dive head first into training rather than spending the first half re-conditioning your body, reawakening the fast twitch muscles and building up your stamina to handle tempo runs at your target pace.

We're not talking about intense track sessions during base training. Instead, try these three key workouts:

Tempo Runs: After a mile warm up, pick up the pace to a comfortably hard effort for 15-20 minutes. What's a comfortably hard effort? We like to think of it as one that's difficult to carry on a conversation, but not impossible to respond to questions with one word answers. Implement these once a week or every other week.

Intervals: After a mile warm up, alternate between 1 to 3 minutes of faster paced runnning and an equal amount of slow, recovery time.  Continue your intervals for 15 minutes total in the beginning and build up to 30-40 minutes of intervals (total time includes both your speed and recovery intervals). If you know your half marathon pace, then aim for this pace during your faster intervals. If not, then aim for a similar pace to the tempo runs.  Implement these every 2 or 3 weeks.

Fartleks:  After at least a mile warm up, incorporate spontaneous bursts of faster paced running into a regular run - either up hills or on the flats. The duration and pace of your faster bursts can be random and undefined. The purpose is to reintroduce faster feet and start recruiting the fast-twitch muscle fibers with bouts of faster paced running without having too much structure in your running. Avoid all out sprints, aim for fun and use what's around you (mailboxes, lamp posts). Incorporate these runs every 2-3 weeks.   

Friday Fun at the Track!

We hit the track this morning with our client (and friend!), Jaema. It was kinda rainy and it was 7am. What happened? We kicked some butt! It was Jaema's first time running an interval set on the track. She's training for lululemon's SeaWheeze Half Marathon in August. We chose this track workout based on where she's at with her training.

Track workouts are a great way to increase your speed, learn proper pacing and build stamina. Today we did a pyramid set: 400, 800, 1200, 800, 400. We aimed for consistent splits. A pyramid track workout is a great way to test your ability to run on tired legs and figure out your pacing for different distances.

Remember, always warm up and cool down with at least a mile. Perform a few dynamic stretches before running your track workout and finish up with some static stretches and a few core exercises.