Speed Training Variety
The spring racing season is nearing as folks prepare to get in some races that will culminate with the Peachtree Road Race on July 4. One should be choosy in the race selection, but one should also be doing the training to prepare for success at these upcoming races.
Most runners know about interval training, tempo runs and fartlek work. One aspect of racing that many runners do not prepare for is the change of pace that will occur in a race. Typically, a majority of racers make a wild dash off the start line. About a half mile or mile out, the pace of the race settles down. For some it continues to gradually slow down until the finish line comes into view, then it’s a final dash for the finish.
There are some workouts you can do to simulate racing that we have been using at Clayton State for the last couple of years with some success. These are a blend of intervals and tempo runs.
The first workout you can try is three sets of either 1200/300m or 1000/500m repeats. I prefer the 1200/300m sets. The 12000m you run at race pace. As soon as you are finished, you jog to the 300m mark (no more than 90-second rest) and then run it faster than race pace, mainly working on your finishing kick. After the 300m, you take between 3-4 minutes to complete the first set. The idea is giving you practice running at race pace, then faster.
Another workout that incorporates strength and speed is starting with a tempo run and finish up on a track or trail with a variety of shorter intervals ranging from 800m down to 200m. For those 5K enthusiasts, run a 2-mile tempo run at about 80-percent effort. Once you have completed the tempo run, take about three minutes of rest, than go into 6 x 400m at slightly faster than race pace with a short rest (one minute to 90 seconds) between each 400m.
This workout will get you learning to run (or race) when you are tired. It is one thing to be fresh when doing intervals and repeats, but doing them after a tempo builds strength. A variation of this type of workout is doing a three or four mile tempo run, followed with either doing 10 X’s on a soccer field or infield of a track, or jog the curves and sprint the straights on a track.
Another type of workout that will build speed strength is running on a 400m track doing continuous 400’s for 12 laps. We did this workout a few times in college where we’d do the first lap in about 72-seconds, followed with the next lap in 90-seconds. I could only muster up about 12 laps worth while a teammate (who was a NCAA D-II All-American at 5,000m in about 14:35) could go 24 laps. If you’re one who races at about 6-minute mile pace, then you would alter between 1:30 and 1:45.
I hope you will find these workouts useful. It is one thing to work on steady pacing when doing intervals and repeats, but how many of us actually race that way? These workouts will better suit your racing style and better prepare you for the races ahead. I recommend doing these workouts for about three to four weeks leading up to your next big race. Good luck!