Monday, December 19, 2011

Why You Should Feel The Need For Speed

A year ago when I started training for my first half, I had no idea what speed work was. It sounded scary and I didn't know how to go about it. So, for all of you newbie runners looking to included different types of runs in your workout or training plan, this post is for you. This post is also for me though, and others like me, who may have fallen off the speed wagon and are looking for motivation to get back on. I've never felt in better shape than I was when I included weekly speed sessions into my training. In an effort to get myself back into it, here are the reasons why you should hate love speed work:

It will make you faster

No duh. This is a no-brainer. Our bodies are excellent at adapting. It's kind of what we do. If you train yourself to run faster, you will run faster. Eventually it will become easier too.

You will be done sooner

Also a no-brainer. Whether you're short on time or it's 20 degrees outside and your face is freezing off, you will be back inside doing whatever else you need to do more quickly after speed work. 4 miles is 4 miles. But 4 miles at a 7:30 pace will get you home a lot faster than 4 miles at a 10 minute pace.

You will land a PR

Obviously a thousand and one things could go wrong on race day to make you not land that PR you've been dreaming of, but chances are if you've including regular speed work into your training you're more likely to attain it. I ran my first half in May 2011 and finished in 2:01. Four months later, after introducing weekly speed work, I ran another half in 1:52, shearing 9 minutes off my time.

Yay PR Half
It will build your aerobic capacity

Specifically, speed work helps develop your VO2 Max, which is a measure of your body's maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise. The greater your body's ability to do this, the higher your physical fitness level. One really good metaphor I read was "A high VO2 Max is like having a bigger engine in your car. A larger engine gives you a higher energy potential."

You will feel hard core

Like all things that take hard physical work, perseverance, and mental toughness, speed work will make you feel like a badass. I'd say I get about the same amount of gleeful satisfaction after running 20 miles slow as I do running 5 miles of super speedy repeats.

It will make you fearless

Speed has always terrified me. Maybe that's why I'm working on competing in ultras and not track meets. If speed is something that scares you, then adding just one weekly session into your training can help you overcome that fear. Push your limits. See what you're made of. We don't get anywhere if we don't challenge ourselves.

As for my favorite speed workouts, two of my favorite bloggers both wrote posts on them here and here. My tried and true favorite is always mile repeats, but I enjoy spicign it up every now and again!

And just in case your curious about speed work's slower cousin, I wrote a how to about easy runs here.

Is speed work part of your weekly training? What is your favorite speed workout?

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  1. I've never done speedwork...probably why I just keep going longer. I know it works, I just seem to be afraid of it!

  2. Right on! (I love speed work WAY more than high mileage.) My favorite: 400-meter repeats at the track.

  3. I think you wrote this specifically for me! I am a newbie runner who has shied away from speed work because I never really knew what the heck it was. Thanks for the great post!

  4. this was a great post! i am still not as consistent with speed work as I want to be but these are all the reasons I will be conjuring up when i want to wimp out


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