I am often asked my advice on improving race times to get a personal best. We all know training is specific (you can’t train for a long distance race by going to step class) so if you are going for speed, you’ve got to include speed work in your training. Makes sense right?
It is amazing how many runners skip this! Yes it can be unpleasant and extremely tough, but the intense workout you get from it is totally worth it. I give full credit to speed work for my recent PB at the Ottawa Marathon (I beat my last record by a full 11 minutes!)
If you are looking to run a personal best at your next race, speed work is paramount.
Not sure where to start? Check out a few of my favourite (or not-so-favourite) speed training workouts.
100m, 200m, or 400m sprints followed by 1 minute of recovery (walking).
Repeat 5-10 times.
These can be done on a track, in a park with a pre-measured distance, or along a route of your choice if you have a GPS watch. The idea is to push your body to the fastest pace possible and hold it for the entire distance. Track your time with a stop watch and aim to hit the same pace for each sprint (yes even the very last one!) Schedule sprint intervals in once a week for your training plan.
Accelerated Tempo Run
5-8k run starting at an easy-moderate pace and increasing your tempo each km.
This is a great way to train for a negative split race. The tricky thing will be keeping up your new faster tempo for the entire kilometer. Include these in your training plan at least twice a month.
Long Run with last 5k at Race Pace
Want to really push your body after a grueling long distance run? Pick up the tempo to your planned race pace and hold it for the final 5km of your weekly LSD training run. This will be a great “test” for your speed work training to see how realistic your planned pace is. Try this once a month in your training plan.