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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Speed Work for Runners

Anyone who races seriously wants to get faster.  If you are going to run you might as well maximize your efforts.  There are a few simple things you need to do; speedwork, tempo runs and long runs. These are a good start for beginners. If you get to the advanced level there are all sorts of twists on the tempo and speed work.

Long Runs-
 if you want endurance you need to run long. This run is done once a week usually on the weekend. If you are racing shorter distances like a 5k, your long run should be twice the distance or a little over 6 miles.  For marathon training you will gradually build until you do several 20 mile runs.  Some marathon programs go as long as 28 miles for marathon training.   This is done at a slow easy pace, typically 1:00-2:00 minutes slower than your current race pace.  You are getting your body and mind used to running the distance. You don’t want to rush through it. Long runs can be done on the treadmill if the weather isn’t conducive to an outdoor run.

Tempo runs teach you how to sustain a faster pace over a long period of time. It is a hard but sustainable pace.   You have to work, but you can hold the pace for a sustained period.  You should be pushing things a bit.  If racing 5 K’s you tempo runs should be about 4 miles.  For 10 K about 6 miles.  For the marathon you will do varying lengths up to 13 miles.

Fartleks:  This is the Swedish term for speed play.  These are unstructured speed work. I use them on days when I am tired or need a mental break.  You spend  time running hard to randomly chosen points. Trees or telephone poles are good markers.  It should be fun. These can also be mixed into your longer runs.

Speed Work
These are often done on a track. Here are some examples of track workouts

  • Mile Repeats
    4 x 1 mile ( 4 laps on the average track) recommended if doing  10K training or early in marathon training.  These should be run at 5 K to 10 K pace.  Start with a 1 mile warm up and end with a one mile cool down. Run easy 2:00 minutes between each mile. These are tough so I only do once a month.  I bump up to 6 x 1 mile when training for a marathon.
  • HillsHills like mile repeats are a tough workout and should not be done in the same week as mile repeats. These also should only be done once a month unless you are used to doing lots of hills. You run 4-5 hills of 150 to 200 yards. You can go up and down the same hill or find a hilly stretch. A bit tough version is 4-5 repeats of 400-600 yards. Run at a 5 K pace.  As you become more experienced you can run longer hills or do more repeats.   Be sure to cool down after with a mile run.
  • 440’s- This is one lap on a track. Run 6- 8 at your 5K pace. Rest 1-2 minutes between each lap with easy jogging. Try to keep the timing even.
  • 880’s- Same as the 440’s  only do 4-6.
  • Laddar-  Run 440, rest, run 880 rest, run 3 laps rest, run 1 mile, rest, then go backwards down the ladder.

Road Intervals
I have been injured twice running on the track and intervals on the road are a good alternative.  Run 10 minutes to warm up then do intervals based on your 440 or 880 time.
So I run 6 intervals of 2:00 running 1:00 easy jog or I run 6 intervals of 4:00 minutes of running with 2:00 minutes of rest. If I am feeling tired I do sprints of 1:00 on with 1:00 minute rest. You can even do a ladder and it would look like this

30 sec run  2 min rest
1 min run   2 min rest
2 min run   2 min rest
3 min run   2 min rest
4 min run   2 min rest
5 min run   2 min rest

Then go backwards down the ladder. You can add or subtract from the run portion to shorten or lengthen the workout. These should be done at your 5K race pace.

Never do more than two speed sessions in a week or your risk injury.  If you are racing cut one of the speed workouts.  Listen to your body and cut back if you feel tired or sore. Pushing when tired does not help improve your speed at puts you at risk for injury.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

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