speed workout

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!

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.

Mizuno Wave Sayonara - Review

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno.

Jessica and I love our Mizuno shoes. I've been a huge fan and completely in love since I got my first pair of Mizuno Wave Elixirs in September 2010. Since then, I've run 3 marathons, a bunch of halfs and thousands of miles in Mizunos. I have 7 pairs - the Prophecy, the Creation, Wave Elixirs and Ascent (their trail sneaker).

The latest addition to my collection is the new (released today!) Wave Sayonara. It's a lightweight everyday training shoe that makes speed more accessible. For me, Mizuno already equals comfortable (serious comfort - like my feet are running in fluffy clouds) and speed. These shoes take it to the next level; they are 7.1 ounces with a G3 SOLE that provides lightweight traction so you feel your connection to the ground without feeling heavy.

I was ready to test out these shoes and, as Mizuno says "wave goodbye to slow and say hello to more energized, mezamashii running" after a month of humid runs in Florida (where I felt like I was running through molasses)! I threw them on and went out for a run. My goal was to run descending miles, with the last mile being 7:30s. My run was stopped when I got BLISTERS on both heels after about a mile. This has NEVER, EVER happened with any Mizuno shoes and I honestly can't remember the last time I had a blister from running. I was really bummed. I reached out to my friend who is a Mizuno tech rep for some help understanding why I got blisters in these shoes. He had a good tip for those of us use to wearing the Elixirs - tie your laces tighter. That did help but I still have the remenants of the blisters so I have to wait until they heal completely before I can begin to fully appreciate the Wave Sayonaras.

I was able to get a few runs in them (with the help of bandaids and mole skin).  I LOVE the colors and I like how light they feel on my feet. It's very easy to increase cadence and turn over your feet for a fast run. They don't have the toe spring (the curl at the top) so while they are roomy, they feel a bit more secure.

I'm in a new town - Portland, Oregon (!) and have yet to find a track and am enjoying just crusing around the city during my runs. To get my interval workout while exploring the city, I did this fun and easy speed workout:

I'm looking forward to a lot more #brilliantruns with the Wave Sayonaras and all my other Mizuno sneakers! Have you tried out Mizuno's sneakers? Tell us which ones in the comments below.

How to Add Speed to your Training

Adding a speed workout is one of the most effective ways to drop time off your race pace.  Speed workouts are often performed on a track – where distance is easily measured and it’s flat, consistent and unrelenting. If you can't get to a track, don't fear! You can still get a butt kickin’ speed workout in even if you don't have a track nearby.

One of our favorite high intensity speed workouts, the speed pyramid, requires only a watch and a route free of stoplights and crosswalks to complete.  Unlike your typical track workout, this type of speed pyramid is a high intensity, fast paced interval workout based on time rather distance.  For this workout, gradually increase set amounts of time run at a high intensity speed increases while maintaining the same level of aerobic output throughout each of the speed intervals.  Follow each fast paced speed burst with a recovery time equal to the high intensity interval you just completed. 

We recommend the following pyramid set for speed newbies: 15, 30, 45, 45, 30, 15.  Run hard for 15 seconds, followed by slowly jogging for 15 seconds; run hard for 30, slow jog for 30; run hard for 45 seconds, slow jog for 45 seconds, etc. Repeat this set 2x. Add in 1-2 mile warm up jog and 1 mile cool down.

You don't need to know your 400 meter or 800 meter pace for the pyramid set. Instead, we recommend that you go by the perceived exertion (PE) scale. Ultimately, you want to learn how to feel your pace and know when you are going too fast and when to speed things up. Here is a how we describe the PE scale to our clients.

  • Level 1: I'm reading on the couch (no exertion)
  • Level 2: Walking slowly, leisurely; I'm comfortable and could maintain this pace all day long
  • Level 3: Fast walk; I'm still comfortable, but am breathing a bit harder and starting to sweat
  • Level 4: Slow Jog; I'm sweating, but feel good and can carry on a conversation easily, consciously slowling myself down until it feels slowwwwww
  • Level 5: Jogging; I'm just above comfortable, sweating but still talking in full sentences (normal exertion)
  • Level 6: Running; I can still talk, but I wouldn't call it a conversation and I have to take a breath every 4 to 5 words (hard exertion)
  • Level 7: Fast Running; I can get a few words out here and there, but I don't really want to and they sound more like grunts - can maintain same pace for 20 minutes continuously
  • Level 8: Sprint; I can't talk an only keep this pace for a short time period - at the end of a race (Very hard exertion)
  • Level 9: All Out Sprint; I can't maintain this pace for more than a few seconds (extremely hard exertion).
  • Level 10: I'm running for my life (Maximum exertion).

Aim to run your speed sets at a level 7. Your goal is consistency throughout the entire workout.  Maintain the same exertion level throughout each individual speed interval while still being able to jog slowly at the end of each speed set without needing to stop and walk. If you feel as if you have to stop and catch your breath, you ran faster than your body could handle. Gradually begin increasing the time of the pyramid sets (example 1: 20, 40, 60, 60, 40, 20) (example 2: 30, 60, 90, 90, 60, 30).

You will be a speed demon in no time!