Summer time and warm weather are a great time to work on improving your speed. I’m a firm believer that you body gets comfortable at one pace and in order to get faster you need to show it what that feels like! There are several different approaches you can take to increase your speed. Whether your goal is a faster 5K, a better pace in a longer race, or the ability to sprint to the finish – here are some strategies for speed training.
1. Fartleks- Funny name but an effective workout. Fartleks can be done on any of your normal runs. Here’s how it works: Let’s say you are going to run a five mile loop. You’ll want to use the first mile to warm up. For the next four miles- intersperse 4 or so pickups. What I like to do is select a street sign, tree, house – something I can see in the distance than pick up my pace til I reach that point. Here’s the key- once you reach your destination- DO NOT STOP! Continue your run at your regular base pace. The distance of your fartleks can vary and the terrain can as well. It’s actually good to try some uphills, downhills and turns.
2. Track Workouts or Intervals- Some folks prefer the discipline and precision of doing speed work on a track. You can pick whatever distance you want to focus on – mile repeats, single laps, half laps, 1/2 mile repeats or even do a ladder approach. You’ll want to time yourself on each go with the goal being to finish the last one as well as you did the first one. Here’s a sample of what a track workout could be:
- 400 repeats (1 lap around the track) – After warming up, you will do 4-6 laps for time with a lap in between each one for recovery. Your recovery lap can be at any pace as long as you keep moving. After completing your first timed lap – that is your goal time that you either want to beat or maintain for the remainder.
- Ladders on the track – for those that like variety! Warm up and then you’ll start with a 100 yard dash, then 200 yards, 400 (1 lap), 800 (2 laps) and maybe even a mile (4 laps). You may choose to challenge yourself by going up and down the ladder – after completing a mile you’d do an 800, 400 and so on. Again the goal is to maintain your speed throughout and finish strong. This workout will kick your butt if you do it properly!