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Friday Fitness: Speed Training

Tomorrow is race day here at Hilton Head Health. It is the eve of our 3rd annual Devin’s Dash and the air around H3 is buzzing with excitement as people get ready to travel the 3.1 miles from start to finish. Everyone goes into the race with a different goal in mind, some are going just to complete. Others are looking to improve their time and set a new PR (personal record). One thing that I often hear is, “aright I have done the impossible..I know that I can run a 5K without stopping! Now I want to work on getting faster!”  So how do I go about building up speed?

First off, it is important to have a foundation of training. You should be able to consistently run at least 3.1 miles. If you are still building your base and growing the amount of time that you are running, focus on that first. Having that solid foundation is crucial for building up speed and injury prevention. Speed work should make up no more than 20% of your total weekly mileage and should be done on non consecutive days.

Here are 4 workouts that can be done to build speed:

  • Striders
  • Tempo
  • Interval
  • Fartlek

Striders: These are short burst of swift running for about 30 seconds. Begin on a flat straightway, gradually accelerate for first 10 second to a challenging speed maintain for about 10 seconds and then decelerate for last 10 seconds. Keep the body upright and relaxed. Focus on a quick and relaxed cadence.  Repeat about 6 times post workout. Great place to do these repetitions is barefoot on a grass.

Tempo: This is a swift, sustained pace workout designed to build up the pace and encourage you to run faster for set period of time. For the 5Kers out there a great tempo workout is do a 5-10 min warm up at an easy pace. Follow that with 15-20 mins at a more challenging pace. Then finish the workout with 5-10 mins a easy pace. How do I determine how fast I should run? The quick and dirty advice is find a pace that it uncomfortable and hold there for the 15-20 mins. How often too we find our conversation pace and fall into a routine. This workout is designed to push you out of that routine and out of your set pace. It is more uncomfortable but that is where the speed is built!

Interval: Intervals are structured bouts of speed for a specific distance or time, followed by a specific recovery period. For those of you who have built your base off of Couch to 5K plans, these are walk/jog intervals where the walk is the recovery and the jog is the speed. These can be done my distance (the track is a great setting for these) or by time. If going by distance at the track a great workout is run 200 (half a loop) at a challenging but sustainable speed, then jog a 400 (one whole lap). Repeat this 6-8 times.

Fartlek: This is Swedish for “speed play” and that is what this workout is all about, playing around with speed intervals. They are unstructured intervals that can be included into a workout. Ex. From here to this fence I am going to run hard. Find that challenging speed, accelerate to the fence and then settle back into conversation pace. These can be a fun way to shake up the usual route. Just like the other workouts, keep good body position, body upright and relaxed.

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