Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Magical Speed Work

I had been putting off this specific speed workout for over a week.  Mainly because it sounds hard.

spoiler alert: I completed this workout.

Not just the running fast part, but the math involved.  Math isn't generally hard for me (let's not talk about anything past calculus though, please), but it is when you have to do most of your runs outside in the dark, you don't have a track to use, and you can't set up a complex interval run on your watch. 

I think Kristy suggested this idea... I made up a little card to bring with me on my run.

It's coated in packing tape because I initially planned to do this run last week in the rain, but I later decided rain + dark + running fast + trying to stare at Garmin for distances = I'd inevitably trip and fall.  I was able to postpone this workout until today, thanks to MLK, Jr, and I was able to do it in daylight.

If I used this little card system again, I would make a little column that told me WHEN to hit the lap button.  For example: if I planned to do a 1 mile warm up, I'd hit the lap button at 1.75 after finishing the first interval, then 1.87 after the first rest interval, then 2.5 after the second speed interval, 2.62 after the second rest interval, etc. 

Instead, I used my 200m rest intervals to whip out my card and calculate when to hit the lap button next, and to try to remember the time goal for the upcoming interval.

I can't fill in a goal time for 200m because RLRF does not provide one (however there is a new revised edition coming out in April that maybe does?).  So I just tried to run the 200 faster than the 400.

Here's how it went:

I was shocked that I consistently ran all of my intervals faster than goal pace.  I didn't feel like dying on the mile cool-down after I finished this.  However, I did walk for the rest intervals.  Because of the weird decreasing-distance-intervals, each successive interval felt easier despite generally upping the pace.

Speed work is magical:
1. It changes your mood! You might be grumpy about having to do it, but after finishing it you will be happy and feel accomplished!
2. It plays mind games with you! At the beginning, it feels like it's going to take forever, and like the paces will feel too hard, but in the final intervals, I sometimes think to myself, "That wasn't so bad, where did the time go? I could probably do one more if I had to."
3. It makes you faster! I think weekly speed work deserves a fair amount of credit for improving my pace this last year.

Do you regularly do speed work?  
At the track, on the treadmill, or on your own?


  1. Awesome job! You killed your time goals! I both love and hate speedwork. I try to do some kind of intervals/tempo runs at least once a week. In combination with the long run, it has helped my pace tremendously! I usually do all my speed with a Garmin on the road too. Lucky for me, it's also done on hills since it's impossible to find anything flat around me.

  2. It's been hard to get the motivation for speedwork without being in a group that all goes to the track once a week. Although I hate the treadmill, I do find it makes it a lot easier than all that craziness you had to do! Good job!

  3. Great job on doing speedwork! I have to admit, I read about speedwork all the time and then I never do it. :)

  4. I loathe speedwork. To do it, I really need someone yelling at me that I'm slow and to move faster. However, having someone do that puts me in a surly mood. So, basically, I avoid it at all costs.

  5. oh that looks so familiar :) funny that we did the same speed work on the same day! i actually like those intervals because it gets shorter each time and there is only 5 of them.

    nice job!

  6. I love speed work so much more fun then long runs

  7. I usually end up running faster than the goal pace as well. I've learned to take the goals loosely and try to run by effort. The only problem is that I probably push it a little bit at time.
    It's hard for me to motivate myself to go do speed work but I do find it very rewarding ultimately. I do it every week as a part of the FIRST training plan.

  8. Cool post! I like the graphic where you showed your times. Awesome!


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