Do you incorporate speed workouts in your training program? Runners not using running speed training are likely not racing to your full potential, and could shave minutes off that personal best.
One desire is shared by most experienced runners, and that is the desire to run faster. And, like anything in life, especially sports, there is always room for improvement.
There are a few speed workouts that will always get you results – Fartlek Runs, Hills, Lunges, Tempo Runs, and Stairs. When incorporated into your normal running program, these workouts can absolutely help you improve your race time. Let’s break these down in great detail...
Fartlek runs are probably one of the most common speed workouts for runners. The word “Fartlek” is actually Swedish, and translates as “speed play”.
The term has long been used by athletes to describe the type of training where you push the body’s limits for a short time followed by a cool down period.
Not only will Fartlek workouts make you faster, but they will also improve the rate at which your body recovers, which is a huge plus if you are training for an upcoming race!
1. To get started, choose a marker along your normal running route (like one subdivision block, or every stop sign). The idea is to run at full speed until you reach your first marker. This distance should be relatively short, taking you between 30-90 seconds.
2. Once you reach your marker, slow down to a brisk walk. Keep this pace until you reach the next marker, no more than 3 minutes.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have done the process for 30 minutes.
Hill workouts definitely allow you to get the most bang for your exercise buck. Incorporating hills into a speed workout routine will improve your race time, build lots of leg strength, and improve your flexibility.
1. Before hitting the hills, we recommend that you first allow your muscles to warm up with a quick jog around the block.
2. Find some nearby hills that you can use for this exercise. The height of the hill should be a challenge, but take you no longer than 15-20 seconds to reach the top.
3. Starting at the base, jog up to the top of the hill at an easy pace. Once you reach the top, turn around, and walk down.
4. Once at the base, turn around, and sprint back to the top. Walk down.
5. Repeat step 3 and 4 until you have done the process for 30 minutes.
Lunges are a great workout for runners even if running faster is not a top priority for you. This exercise is extremely effective at building muscle in your legs, butt, and lower pack, improving core strength and balance. These factors work together to improve your stride and cadence, and ultimately your race time.
1. Step forward with your right leg, and lower your body towards to ground. Make sure that your front knee does not overextend but stays behind your toes.
2. Your back leg should be at a 90 degree angle to the floor, with your back knee almost touching the floor. You may need to lengthen or shorten your step to get this proper form and avoid injury.
3. Engaging that front leg to pull your body weight back up to a standing position, lunge forward with the left leg.
4. Repeat with each leg 25 times before resting for one minute. Repeat twice more.
5. This exercise can be intensified by walking with barbells in each hand.
Tempo runs are similar to Fartlek in that it utilizes a variance of running paces. From my experience, this technique gives me results I can see each week. As part of your running speed training you will need to extend the time you spend on step 2.
It is recommended that you start out at 5 minutes, and extend that time each week by 1-2 minute intervals.
1. Begin your run at an easy pace for 8 minutes.
2. After 8 minutes, speed up to a difficult but tolerable pace that you can keep for 5 minutes.
3. After 5 minutes, return to your easy pace.
4. Repeat steps 2-3 until you have done the process for one hour.
Stairs are a great way to squeeze a speed workout into just about anyones schedule! If you live in an apartment building, or work on the 8th floor of a building, skip the elevator, and take the stairs.
The trick is to be adventurous and use your imagination! Train on a well known monument, at a sporting event, or at your local high school!
When I lived in Los Angeles, the most popular location was the “Santa Monica Stairs.” On any given night, they were swamped with people who were climbing, sweating, and fighting for results.
1. Find a set of stairs, preferably with at least 20 steps, and a rail (for safety). Begin your workout by jogging up to the top.
2. Once at the top, walk back down, using the rail for support.
3. Once at the bottom, briskly walk back to the top. Walk back down.
4. Repeat step 2 and 3 until you have done the process for 45 minutes.
Any of the above techniques will be a great addition to your speed workouts. A cool bonus is that you are likely to see other improvements in your future runs, like increased endurance, and quicker recovery.
So incorporate a few of these speed workouts to your running training plan, and see what works best for you. You will be running faster in just a few weeks!