The triumphant return of Speedwork Wednesdays

August 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Inspired by Gym Belle and her oh-so-wise advice, I am proud to report that I have gotten up early TWICE this week to run. And it’s only Wednesday!

Yesterday I ran my usual route along the West Side Highway. I almost bailed when I saw how hot it was (I would have gone to the gym instead, I swear!), but then I realized it was better to just get it over with. It was super sticky and gross. My Garmin said I completed 5.26 miles in 54:50. That’s fine, but the last time I ran that exact same route, it said I ran 5.4 miles. Strange, no? I’m learning that the Garmin is just a touch unreliable. I still love it, though. And I’m glad I got the miles in yesterday.

Today I headed to the gym for intervals on the treadmill, and, as promised, I cranked up the speed to 8.0, and did my recovery time at 5.7. I was a little scared going in, but 8.0 wasn’t so different from 7.5. (8.0 is 7:30 pace! How do you like me now??) I even did the last 30 seconds at 8.5! There is definitely room for improvement here. What I did was hard, definitely, but I am 100% sure that I have more in me. Maybe next time I’ll switch it up a little – either adding more overall time or perhaps changing the ratio from 30 seconds fast/60 seconds recovery to 1 minute fast (scary!)/2 minutes recovery.

I don’t know all of the right language to explain why speedwork is important (all I can say is that it makes me run better and faster!), but Coach Ali had some great insight that I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

In order to run faster and more efficiently, your practices have to incorporate essential speed work. Speed Work = Hills, Fartlek, Interval, and Tempo runs

We all respond in the same general manner to repetitive slow distance training runs; the rate and magnitude of the response is what differs in each individual.

GENERAL ADAPTATION SYNDROME (GAS): The body goes through 3 stages when adapting to a stimulus (in our case distance running).

1.     Alarm Stage- When the body is “shocked” form a new stimulus; Your first 2-3 weeks of training runs

2.     Adaptation Stage- When the body begins to change in response to the same stimulus; usually 4-12 weeks

3.     Exhaustion/Accommodation Stage- When the body has fully accommodated the stimulus, and in fact RESPONSE NEGATIVELY TO THE SAME STIMULUS; usually after 12 weeks

OVERLOAD PRINCIPLE: progressive variation within training and goals set by individual team members; to force adaptation, a different and/or greater stimulus (speed work training) MUST be applied.

That means it’s time to take the next step!  Hopefully you have reached your initial cardiovascular base training goal and ready to start your improvement program. Instead of our usual long slow distance (60+ minutes of continuous running) practice of maintenance conditioning runs, we will start to increase our frequency, duration and INTENSITY. 

Pace/Tempo Training

This type of training is for those team members who want to continue to increase their cardiovascular endurance/ aerobic capacity/ lactic threshold. It will train your body to run at a faster speed before lactic acid builds up in your blood.  Lactic acid (LT) is waste product produced by muscles as they burn fuel. When LT builds up in our blood it slows you down with a tired, heavy-legged feeling. Over time this will make your heart rate and lungs more efficient, and allow you to run harder before you reach your LT. 

1. Intermittent Pace/Tempo Training: Run bouts that last only 3-5 minutes with a rest of about 30-90 seconds.  These will be repeated at a given pace (faster than your best 5k pace) until the pace cannot be maintained. 

2. Steady Pace/Tempo Training: One 30-35 min bout of running at a high intensity.

3. Sandwich Tempo Training: Run for 15 minutes at your tempo pace, then jog at a recovery pace for 5-8 minutes before running at your tempo pace once more for 15 minutes. 



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  1. Thanks Meghann! I’m finally back to running and will definitely give this a try!

  2. welcome back! 🙂 I promise it will make a difference!

  3. Glad to hear the early mornings are working out! I’m just starting to incorporate speedwork into my routine… I really hope it works!

    • Good luck! Let us know how it works out!

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