After solid training and getting a few races under your belt, a new thought may begin creeping into your mind – speed.
Suddenly your thoughts go from finishing the distance to finishing the distance in a certain amount of time.
So how exactly do you start adding speed work into your training?
First, you need to have solid training for at least 6 months. (Speed work is not for beginning runners.) Solid training includes 3 or more runs per week, along with no current injuries. Adding in speed will work your body in a whole new way and you need to make sure you are ready for it!
Speed work needs to be gradual. It can start very simply, adding speed bursts into your current runs. For example, speed up the last tenth of a mile each mile. Or even sprint to the next tree or stop sign. Anything to add short, but fast, intervals to your current training.
Another form of speed work is hills. While you may not feel like you are attacking them at a faster pace, your legs are working harder while going uphill, which in turn will make your pace faster on flat roads. Find a hill on your training path and run up and down it a few times, using the downhill as recovery.
A local track is another great place to add in a little speed work. Each loop around the track is 400 meters (with 4 loops equaling one mile). While 800 meters are the most popular for speed work, any distance will work. You can use an online pace calculator to find how fast you will need to run your distance to hit a certain pace.
By adding in speed work, your legs will begin to prepare for a faster pace, translating into a faster race time. After crossing the finish line with a new personal best, all the speed work pain will be worth it!
Megan Biller is an avid runner in Michigan, having completed many 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon races, including the multi-day Dopey Challenge. She also is the author of Magical Miles: The Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World, a tour book and blog that helps runners taking on their first or fiftieth runDisney race.