My friend Teresa Marie is back today with guest post for you on running! Teresa is the boss-lady over at Eat, Drink & be Skinny - a site chock-full of healthy recipes & fitness tips. She's also an avid runner and co-founder of Gals Who Run, a community where women who run across the globe can come for inspiration, ideas, support, & guidance.
While my long-distance running days have slowed down (seven admittedly slow San Diego Rock & Roll marathons later!) I do still love running and the myriad health benefits it provides. I love this post because the training plan that Teresa lays out here is good for EVERYONE; if you have a long-distance run in your goals, if you want to get faster at shorter runs (hello Barry's Bootcamp Babes!), or if you are simply seeking the fantastic metabolic effects of adding intervals to your routine!
Speed Work for Beginners
“The best way to run faster, is to run faster.”
-Clever Running Coach
If you’re a new runner or even a seasoned runner on a pace plateau, it might be time to sprinkle in a little speed work into your weekly routine. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and when you’re just getting started, it doesn’t even need to be “fast.” It just needs to be hard.
Speed work is a way to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and force your body to adapt to the pressure and physically become stronger. You can poke along running at your easy pace forever. Your general health will benefit and you’ll gain endurance, but you won’t get much faster.
Why I believe in speed work
I started running marathons in 2001 when I moved to San Diego as a way to make friends. Little did I know the impact it would have on my life. I documented my entire love affair with running in a long post I wrote just after the Boston Marathon 2014, called Addicted to Running.
I’ll spare you the details here, but essentially I went from a 4:45 marathon pace to a PR of 3:29. There were only two things I did differently; I lost 20 pounds and I started doing speed work. I’m not sure if speed work is the chicken or the egg to weight loss, but needless to say, I got faster and took 3 minutes off my marathon pace – yahoo!
Can you benefit from speed work?
Yes. I don’t even need to know you to tell you that you can benefit from speed work. Even if you’re a super-beginner-runner and you feel like track workouts are for the pros. Let me tell you, they are for everybody and anybody can benefit. I hate the old saying “no pain – no gain” because it sounds so outdated and there is a fine line between the pain of progress and pain of destruction.
But the spirit and science of speed work does stem from this concept. If you feel like you want to throw up after an interval, you’re doing it right. Your body is an amazing machine and it’s oh-so-smart. If you’re consistently pushing it harder, to the point of discomfort, it will respond by improving in strength and efficiency.
How to start doing speed work
If you run several days a week, devote one day to “speed work.” There are hundreds of types of workouts you can do, but the simplest will include repeats of the most common distances, 1 mile, 800m (1/2 mile) and 400m (1/4 mile). You’ll do 1-3 miles of “work” in your entire run of 3-5 miles between warm up and recovery times. You can vary your workout each week with different distances and progress the total distance over time. It could look something like this:
Need more ideas on how to get started running or running faster?
If you want daily advice or a comprehensive training plan to help train your body to run faster, then check out the Gals Who Run Training Resources. We have two 12-week training guides for the full and half marathon and two 5-week coaching programs, beginner and advanced.
Whether you just start running faster for intervals on your own or you invest in a strategic marathon or half-marathon training schedule, incorporating speed work into your plan will benefit your body and your race times! Both of those results make running so much more fun!