Friday, March 2, 2012

Teaching your body to go fast

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

"The idea is to teach your body to go faster than it wants to." That was a comment from Emerging Runner friend Paul regarding interval training. I reread that sentence three times because I thought it was a perfect way to describe the concept of speed work. It sounds simple, but it's not. Making your body go faster than it wants to go is hard. But when you do, it (almost) always pays off.

I thought about Paul's comment during my run this morning. Usually at 4:00 AM I feel heroic, simply because I've dragged myself out of bed and hit the road in the darkness and the cold. Performance is secondary and my expectations are low, because I'm usually half asleep through the first mile. Today I played a little with my speed once I felt fully alert. I'd pick a spot a few hundred feet ahead and increase my pace until I reached my target. I was curious to see if these fartleks would translate into a performance improvement.

It turned out they did. Today's run finished 1: 10 sooner than Tuesday's although I followed the same route at the exact same time in the morning. It was a difference of 26 seconds per mile. I'll take half minute per mile improvements any day, but my overall pace was still in the low 9:00's. That sleepy first mile always throws me off. I guess that's as fast as my body was willing to go this morning.


  1. I find it best to do speed work when I feel well rested. It is a hard workout. Weekends are best.

    It is hard to improve on 5k times while also training for a longer race such as a half or full marathon. Best to concentrate on just one goal at a time.

    I recently read that when Ryan Hall trains for a marathon he does not worry too much about his speed for other distances. All his training is geared towards that one goal.

  2. I'm feeling torn between a desire to do well in the 5K and to also be ready for the long duration of the half marathon, three weeks later. I think my bias will be on building my base and I'll throw in speed work when I can.


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