I’ve always been a runner that prefers to race middle distances like the mile, 5k and 10k. Even though I’m in my early 30’s, the mile is still my favorite race. Unlike most of my running buddies who hung the spikes long ago to take on the marathon, I prefer speed work over recovery runs.
Spring rolls around and I start to hear about their training plans for a fall marathon. When they’re asking me to meet up for a 15 mile recovery run, I like to remind them that spring is a great time to work on leg turnover too. Not only will it add some variety to the monotony of marathon training and inspire new goals but, it will also help you run those longer distances faster. Here’s my input when it comes to spring training and how to incorporate speed into your regime.
At the change of the season we have more sunlight (thank you day light savings time!) and rising temperatures. Warmer weather is great for working on speed because it allows your calves and hamstrings to be a little more flexible. As you start to pick up the pace, a greater range and motion of the muscles means a lower chance of injury.
Often times the bike path or track is covered in leaves or snow as we transition through the winter season. Spring allows us the opportunity to measure our fitness. In addition to easy running, tempo running and distance running, I like to incorporate speed workouts. I love doing very simple workouts like 300-200-100 (3-2-1’s) or 400 meter repeats on my “speed days”. I normally take a 200 meter jog to rest. 3-2-1’s are great for gradually picking up the pace. As I go down in distance, I find that I’m able to sustain a quicker pace.
The speed work I do in the spring helps with my efficiency as I start preparing for longer races in the fall. As I get closer to my best mile time towards the end of summer, I find that my tempo runs and cruise intervals are much smoother during the fall. This is because I have improved my running economy. In order to sustain faster speeds over distance, you must learn to run with a more efficient stride (higher cadence, less ground contact time, etc). This efficiency pays big time when moving up in distance.
This is because:
- Leg turnover has increased to a point at which I can run what used to be fast with less effort
- Perceived effort has changed
- Temperature is dropping and I’m able to take advantage of my speed
- My core temperature remains low and I’m able to run faster and farther with the same (or less effort)
Tips for your Speed Work :
- Always warm up properly and start slow
- I prefer keeping 100m and 200m strides into my weekly schedule year-round so I’m always ready to run fast or gear up for a race
- Run these workouts in a light weight trainer like the Wave Sonic
- Start with 6-10 x 100m strides (100-200m jog to rest) twice a week at the end of a recovery run
- Over the course of a couple weeks start to incorporate longer workouts like 10 x 200m (200m jog to rest) and 3-2-1’s (above)
- Off the track, try 8-10 x 30 second pushes (even try these on a hill) and build up to 10 x 1 minute intervals (equal amount rest.
- Each week you will begin to notice the pace quicken and feel easier than a few weeks prior
I hope this inspires you to change up the workouts and set new goals this spring!
Laura Pifer, Mom on a Run
3 x High School National Champion (2 Track 1 XC) and former H.S. National Recorder holder (5k 16:29) from Bingham H.S. She was part of the University of Colorado’s National Championship team. Post collegiate she has run a recent 4:36 mile and enjoys competing in 5k & 10k road races. She is currently a mother, business owner and athlete.
Published: May 2018