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


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!

Fartlek Workouts

We encourage our clients to incorporate speed training into their training. This usually takes the form of intervals or repeats on a track. If you don't have a track near you, a fartlek workout is a great way to incorporate speed into your weekly training because they are flexible. The other added benefit of a fartlek workout is that it prepares your for the uneven paces of a race. Think about it - you run fast to pass people, you slow down if you are behind a pack of runners, you might have to speed up to get over to the water, you slow down on a hill or around a corner. A runner who is able to adjust their pace and respond to mid-race surges will run faster and hit their goals.

What is a Fartlek?

A Fartlek (swedish for “speed play”) is speeding up and slowing down multiple times during a run. Run for about 40 minutes with 20 dedicated to speeding up and slowing down. Pick objects head of you - the next lamp post or building. Be sure to warm up for about 1 mile or 10 minutes and cool down for about the same after your fartlek workout. You can customize fartleks to how you feel. If you feel tired, reduce the number of fast repeats you run and take more time to recover. If you feel great, run the sprints hard and reduce the recovery (jogging) time.

Structured Fartlek

While the fartlek’s popularity is due to its flexibility, many coaches and clients like a more structured approach - this mimics more of a track workout. For example, a structured fartlek might be a pyramid workout (2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2 with 2:30 recovery between each): 10 minute warm up, 2 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 3 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 4 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 4 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 3 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 2 minutes hard and a 10 minute cool down. This is a great workout to do if you don't have access to a track. 

Incorporate fartleks into your weekly training as your interval or speed day. Perform this once a week or more if your coach prescribes it. Be careful not to add in too much speed all at once. These workouts are designed to tax your muscles and your nervous system so be sure to recover with an off day or an easy day immediately after a fartlek workout.