Five Workouts For Speed Without Burnout

Whether you are going for the podium or a PR, it is likely that you’ll get to the point where you want to start running faster. And why not? Being human, we are hardwired to pursue the better self, not to mention those oh-so-good endorphins that come after a hard workout. Getting faster is a balancing act. Finding ways to vary workouts and train your muscles in different ways is the spice to getting faster and not plateauing.

1)Intervals

Intervals are a workout where you vary your pace between two (or potentially more) paces. The two paces usually occur for the same specified duration throughout the workout. For example, a 4 mile run may be broken into sets of 5 minutes at normal pace, and 2 minutes at your mile/5k pace.

If you run on track, you could consider doing normal pace on the straights, and sprinting one or both the curves. Of course, this style can be adapted to road and/or trail.

2) Fartleks

This Swedish word literally means “speed play”. It is meant to be a fun workout (yes, I did put those two words together) where you do your speed work throughout the run when you feel like it. Sprint the distance between Starbucks in NYC (without crashing into other people). Sprint between two different rock outcroppings in Moab. Run at an upbeat pace from cactus to cactus in Phoenix. The choices are totally up to you.

3)Hills

Hills are strength and speed in disguise. You will likely benefit from implementing hills into your training. Hills also train you to use proper running form by landing on your toes vs. your heels, pumping your arms, and leaning slightly forward. If you do not have hills in your area, some high school stadiums will allow bleacher laps (stairs). Treadmills could also do the trick.

There are a couple of forms of hill workouts to consider:

  • Continual effort at normal pace/hiking. Run at the pace that is comfortable for you, and hike when necessary.

  • As your comfort with hills progresses, you can start implementing repeats into your hill day. Starting off with something such as 6×10 seconds may be a good place to start. In this case, six repeats going uphill for 10 seconds at a moderately hard effort. You may be able to build up to 6×30 seconds (or more) over time as your fitness level progresses.

4)Ladders

Ladders are work by firing different gears for different distances. Ladders may be ascending, descending, or both directions. For example: 1x800m + 1x600m +1x400m + 1x200m would be a descending ladder for a mid-distance athlete. Long/ultra distance athletes may do something similar with longer distances, or go minute duration vs. distance. You may repeat the same direction, or, “climb” back up if your fitness allows.

5) The Long Run

This is where champions are made. The bacon to the eggs. The frosting on the cake. Pushing your distance farther than normal trains endurance, but also raises your aerobic threshold, making faster paces feel more like normal effort. With long runs, it helps to find a way to break monotony. Find a new place to run- a new stomping grounds. Explore the trails or neighborhoods around you. Fun a buddy who is as crazy as you are. Pick a podcast that you can dig into and zone out with, or, to the contrary, a pump-up playlist that reaffirms that you are a boss.

Just as putting in the work is beneficial, so is taking time to stretch, rest and recover. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but by focusing on the long term goal and being dedicated to it. Similarly, getting faster is a process that occurs over time and with dedication. Having a coach can give you the advantage of a personalized step-by-step plan that includes guided workouts and strategic rest days. Because the body reacts to different types, or “blocks”, of training at different times, success in running involves varying your workouts. As a coach, I can create a plan to lead you to succeed your goals. If you’ve got questions, let’s chat and see how a plan could benefit you.

Have any success stories, thoughts, or questions? Leave a comment below! Thanks for reading, and considering sharing this if it was useful!