Sunday, 6 December 2015

My favourite speed sessions

The best part of running is seeing improvements every time you run. However, this comes with a balance of endurance, hill and HIIT training. The latter is personally a favourite of mine. As a speed driven, middle distance runner, I thrive off sessions that involve short, fast reps. 

For many, these sorts of workouts cause dread and worry - fear that they make them too tired for their long run at the weekend, or that lots of fast reps could cause injuries and niggles. In all honestly, there is nothing except benefits from high intensity sessions. As well as making you a faster runner, speed work also contributes to your overall fitness. It improves your core strength, running momentum and the ability to endure hardcore running. What's not to love!?

Here are a few of my faves that are great to do alone or with a group of fellow runners. I highly recommend trying to squeeze in a speed session once a week, or if not, alternate it every week with a hills session. 


All of my speed sessions start with a warm up jog (or if I am heading to the track to train with club members, I will cycle there to get the heart rate up). I find this really important as it just gets the body prepped for what's to come. It doesn't have to be fast - just your steady, plateau place. Next, I will do some drills to get my muscles and joints warmed up. I always aim to do:

3x 10 seconds of heel flicks
3x 10 seconds of high knees
3x 10 seconds of high skips
3x 50m of strides

Once all this is done, you are good to go!

1. Short and sweet sprints.
This session is all about very short, very fast reps. I aim to run these 400ms at my 3K pace. If you are new to speed sessions, I would begin doing this session a couple of times at 5K pace and overtime as your stamina builds up, you will slowly see your speed increase. Saviour those rest periods too! This session does leave you huffing and puffing at the end but you will feel like you have worked your socks off!

2. Pyramids

This one is tough but a goodie. Sometimes I do this session by distance or by time (e.g. 4mins, 3mins, 2mins, 1min) so it's a choice of whatever you prefer. As the distances get shorter, your speed increases. When you come to the halfway point, the hard part is working your way back up to 1200m where your speed decreases as the sets get longer. I run the longest distance at 10K pace and then the shortest at 3K pace. 

3. The 5 5's
This looks simple but I find these session one of the toughest. I am one of those that dreads fartlek work. I cherish my beloved rest periods and thoroughly miss them when it comes to this workout, That said though, this session really does improve your endurance and it helps me to manage different level of paces for certain distances. By the time you have completed the 10K pace set, you will be so relieved to drop the speed for the last two sets. Warning - legs will feel tired at the end of this so make sure you make time to stretch properly at the end. 

What are your favourite speed sessions? I am always on the hunt for newbies! :)

Lipstick Runner.

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