Talkin’ Dirty

It’s inevitable, once you’ve been running for awhile, someone is bound to mention these two dirty words.  That’s right, SPEED WORK. The distance runner’s nemesis.

“But”, you say, “I don’t want to run fast, I want to run far.”
“But”, I say, “you do want to run far faster.”
At which point you scrunch your face and flare your nostrils, look down, turn and walk to the line. (Hmmm, is this insight or a flashback?)

I saw a handy dandy training chart once that illustrates the concept:.

handy dandy training guide

Courtesy: Josh Seifarth

The further away from your goal race, the more intensity and less volume on your speed days (shorter repeats).  Right now I’m at the far left on the chart, not even in my 18 week plan. I start with 200 meter repeat’s. You can start with 100’s if it’s new to you, and work your way up to 600’s. I’ll do something like 4 sets of 4x200m with 1 min between repeats and 3 minutes between sets. The next week I’ll do 300’s, or maybe 200’s on a hill.

So there’s a little dialog, a simple picture, and some confusing stuff with numbers.  Why do I want to do this again?  Sprinting, panting, sprinting… I’m out of breath already.

I’ll explain. To run a faster 10k you need to run a faster 100m… 100 times.
A distance runner doing speed work wants to run fast while running like they usually run. Everything’s exaggerated a little, but don’t flail your arms and legs like mad. Try to run tall and relaxed. You only have so much speed to burn, don’t squeeze it out all at once. Coax it out a little each time, cruise once you’re up to speed, and make it last to the end of the workout. The next week the trick is to extend your speed with longer repeats, maintaining rest.

A couple of simple things to key on:

  • Have a finish line and push all the way to it. Get in the habit of your mind telling your body when it’s done, not the other way around.
  • Speed should be 10 – 15% faster than 5k pace. A 25:00 5k is 30 sec per 100m, so try to run your 100m at ~ 25 sec (-15%) and your 400m at ~ 1:48 (-10%).
  • Good footing like a track or asphalt path. Inclines and declines are great, as long as they are consistent and gradual.

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