by Swag Hartel
A key workout for running faster times in distances from the 5k to the marathon is a weekly speed session. Running a short distance at a pace faster than usual is a sure way to adapt to a faster pace when in a race.
While most speed sessions are conducted on the track, they do not have to be. Feel free to run through the neighborhood on a prescribed course, or let yourself wander.
When starting to do speed work for the first time, remember to be conservative in your pacing and in fact your entire approach to this new activity. These workouts are taxing, and a potential source for injury if done incorrectly.
The idea is to do the prescribed distance only slightly faster than your normal training pace. These are not all out efforts, rather they should be gradual increase in speed. The important part is to keep the work interval of the session at a consistent pace. If you are slowing towards the end, or bending over with your hands on your knees gasping for breath, you started too fast.
If your perceived exertion on a regular training run is about 5 or 6 on a scale of 1-10, intervals should come in around 7-8. If you feel like you are going to puke at the end of an interval, you are at 10 on the scale and going too hard.
Before you start, be sure to warm up with at least 10 minutes of light jogging. Ease into the workout and don't go all out. Follow it up with 10 minutes of light jogging at the end too.
Just like running in general, it is best to start out with shorter distances with longer rest intervals between the work portions and work up to longer distances with shorter rest intervals in the speed sessions.
Swag Hartel is a former British world-class runner and sub four-minute miler. Swag has logged over 52,000 miles of running in his lifetime and has earned a reputation as one of the truly elite runners in the state of Kentucky.