Finishing a race is all good and well but finishing a race in a time to be proud of is a different matter. Although finishing that first half marathon is a huge achievement in itself, sooner or later the running bug bites again and before long simply crossing the line in any time doesn’t seem enough. Before long you start to look at that hard fought PB and think just how much time you can shave off…enter speed-work sessions.
The good news is that it is quite easy to speed up your running given the right sort of training, the bad news is that speed work sessions are tough, place a large strain on your body and can put you at risk of injury and overtraining if not treated with caution. We have all fallen into that trap of running the same route week in week out, only to find ourselves pulling a muscle when we try to sprint 50m for the bus. Make sure that you ease into the below sessions over the first few weeks and dont try to push things too hard to fast before you have given your body time to adapt.
This is a classic speed session that can be found in many shapes and forms. It essentially involves you running at about 80% of your maximum heart rate for a period measured in either time or distance. After a short recovery jog you repeat the same sprint again and continue to follow this pattern for the duration of the session.
One of my favorite sessions consists of ten 400m sprints with 30 second intervals in-between each repetition. This sort of session is best done with a group of runners on a track as then each runner can take it in turns to lead the pack and it is easy to see if you are falling behind. You should aim to set out at a pace where you can finish the final rep in the same time as the first…but this is much easier said than done!
This is anther favorite session as it not only improved your speed, but also your running economy and leg strength. You may really struggle with this type of speed session to begin with but stick with it as nothing will reward you more in terms of speed gains.
A typical session involves you finding a hill where you can comfortably run for 60 seconds. Run up the hill for the 60 seconds and then jog down as a recovery before repeating. Start with 4 reps and try to build up to 10 reps of an increased duration. You can also find a steeper hill if your fitness stagnates.
For track and field equipment see the Savage Strength website.