Speed Training for Runners: Boost Your Performance with These Essential Workouts
Then it's time to lace up your sneakers and dive into the exhilarating world of speed training.
Incorporating speed work into your training routine can make a significant difference in your overall performance. On this page, I'll break down some key speed training essentials that can help you sprint, stride, and surge your way to success.
Speed Training for Runners Essentials #1 - Start with a Solid Warm-Up
Before you even think about pushing your speed limits, make sure you give your body the warm-up it deserves. A proper warm-up gets your muscles and joints ready for the intensity ahead.
Begin with a light jog for about 10-15 minutes to increase blood flow and elevate your heart rate. Follow that up with dynamic stretches like leg swings, high knees, and butt kicks. This combination of cardio and stretching will prepare your body for the bursts of effort you're about to undertake.
Speed Training for Runners Essentials #2 - The Power of 8-10 Second Hill Sprints
Imagine this: a hill, your legs pumping, and the exhilaration of conquering that incline. Hill sprints, lasting around 8-10 seconds, are a fantastic way to develop explosive power and improve your running economy.
A hill sprint may only last 8-10 seconds, but there are a few rules to doing them properly:
Speed Training for Runners Essentials #3 - Strides: Effortless Grace in Every Step
Strides are perfect for promoting turnover, increasing stride length, and tuning your nervous system to handle faster paces. Like with hill sprints, you do these best at the end of a run. Get some more information about running strides via the link.
Speed Training for Runners Essentials #4 - Unleash the Speed Demon: All-Out Sprints
You might wonder, as a long-distance runner, do all-out sprints have a place in your training regimen? The answer is yes!
You can do these at the start of a run. Measure out a length of about 50m or so. Sprint at an all out effort. Then take a long recovery, 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Preferrably standing still or walking. Then you go again.
I'll just repeat, like with the hill sprints and the strides, taking a break and doing nothing is hard for us long-distance runners! We don't like to stand about and wait. But for this type of workout to work, you need to go all-out for the short sprint and you need the time to recover!
Speed Training for Runners Essentials #5 - Fartlek Training: Playful and Productive
Fartlek, which means "speed play" in Swedish, is a training method that adds an element of fun to your routine. It involves alternating between different paces during a run. For example, you might alternate between a comfortable pace and a fast sprint whenever you feel like it. This type of training keeps things interesting. It challenges your body in various ways and can be particularly useful when you are wanting to add some speed to your training without doing a structured interval workout.
See the Fartlek Workout page for further information.
Speed Training for Runners Essentials #6 - Repetitions for Leg Speed
I might do an easy 8-10 mile run and in it, I have 8 repetitions of 20 seconds length, with quite a long easy running pause in between (e.g. 3-4 minutes). The next week the 20 seconds becomes 30 seconds. The week after it becomes 45 seconds. Then the week after, I might transition to intervals, the topic of the next paragraph.
Speed Training for Runners Essentials #7 - Intervals: Building Endurance and Speed
Intervals are the bread and butter of speed training. Intervals generally have a structured work-to-rest ratio. You can make intervals easier or harder by playing with this ratio. E.g. doing 10 x 1 minute hard, 2 minutes easy with a work:rest ratio of 1:2 feels very different to a 10 x 1 min hard, 1 min easy workout with a work:rest ratio of 1:1!
These workouts challenge your cardiovascular system, improve your anaerobic capacity, and enhance your ability to maintain higher speeds for longer durations. They're like intervals of magic that transform your running prowess.
Check out the Interval Running page for more information about intervals.
Speed Training for Runners Essentials #8 - When to do speed training
In a nutshell, speed training is like adding a turbo boost to your running journey. By incorporating these workouts into your routine, you'll develop more leg speed, more power and more strength.
And that should translate in faster race times. Simple as that. Remember, consistency is key and a little goes a long way!
From what I witness in the training of people I have coached, of friends and countless other long distance runners, is that speed training is very undervalued. Sure, almost everybody does the occassional interval workout. But that pure speed training, like hill sprints, strides, all-out sprints or repetitions? Doesn't get done that often.
So, make this your secret weapon! Gradually integrate these speed sessions into your weekly plan and watch yourself transform into a faster, stronger, and more agile runner. Happy speed training!
Are you a beginning runner? Then this is your best starting point. Many tips and running programs on offer, dedicated to you.
Aiming to lose a few pounds? Get into the Running for Weight Loss section for tips and advice.
The Running Training section of the site has got the most articles. It is constantly getting updated with new tips and information. A must-visit if you are serious about improving your running performance.
The 5k is a great distance to run and train for. The great thing is that you can do it quite often and see big improvements.
The 10k is a real challenge. You need to run fast for an uncomfortably long time! Check out this section if you are strong of mind and legs!
The marathon is a massive challenge. Proper training is so important! Make sure to check out this section if you have got your mind set on the marathon!