My first year of running has blissfully existed outside the realm of calculated pace times and organized speed work, but everything I’ve read on the subject suggests that’s going to have to change if I want to achieve my ambitious marathon goal time without the use of a non-regulation hoverboard. (Had to ruin it for everyone, McFly?) To be fair, I’ve been aware that speed work existed, with some of my training plans suggesting logging miles at a 5K pace or at a half marathon pace, but since I only have one pace – running – I never heeded those workouts much mind. That is, until I plopped my recent 10K time into a fancy internet calculator to extrapolate my anticipated marathon time and realized I’m going to need to do some fancy footwork if I’m going to shave off 11 minutes and 38 seconds between now and the fall racing season.
Enter speed work, stage left.
Speed work encompasses any number of targeted workouts, from striders (which I gather to be traditional ‘sprints’ for guys who prefer two-syllable words) to intervals (which are discussed in the next chapter of my running book and therefore won’t be explained here.) Since my next big race is taking place back in the mountainous acreage that is Central Park, I opted for another form of speed work this morning: hills.
When I looked up hill workouts online last night, they all started something like this: Locate a hill 400 meters long with an incline of 7 to 9 percent and an asphalt-to-gravel ratio of 3:1 on a street whose name begins with a W. With those mandated and very specific distance and incline requirements, I didn’t know how to go about finding the perfect hill for my hill sprints without an old prospector in tow. Hell, most of my hill education until now has come from the Duke of York. I ultimately decided any hill was better than no hill and after logging two quick warm up miles, jogged my way down the block-long pedestrian-only incline by my apartment for five 0.15-mile hill repeats.
The workout itself was full of ups and downs (jokes!), but was ultimately uneventful. I sprinted up, then jogged down, and then repeated four more times. Most of the online workouts said I should have fully caught my breath by the time I’d completed the jog back down, but – blame in on my undisputed canine heritage – found that wasn’t the case. You win this round, gravity.
How have you worked speed work into your routine? Would hiring something rabid to chase me help hurry along the process?