Speed Work

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?

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3 Responses to Speed Work

  1. Bridges are good for hill work…I like Williamsburg best.

    Speedwork can be fun! I’m doing the SmartCoach Runner’s world plan and it has my speedwork at 1mile warmup, then 1mile @speed pace, 1/2 mile recovery and repeat 3 -4 times. I do my speedwork along the East River promenade if you ever want to join (usually Wed)!

    What’s your marathon goal pace? My goal is 4:30:00, I just realized the plan I’m following has me at 4:00:00 — haha that’s NOT going to happen

  2. I’ve only run one half, and I clocked in at 1:59:34, so that sets me up for a 4:12-ish marathon if I really bust my butt (and if the online calculator I used is remotely accurate). I’m thinking 4:20+ is more realistic, but I have all summer to figure out the details. Would love to join your routine some Wednesday — thanks! Are you running Saturday’s NYRR half as part of your marathon training?

    • That’s an impressive time!!! My half PR is 2:06 — I’m not sure why my training plan thinks I can do a 4hr marathon — maybe bc I chose the “hard” option? haha

      You have a lot of time to train, if you focus on speed work and tempos once a week I think you could totally do the 4:12!

      I’m not running Saturday’s 1/2. I need to do a SLOW 20 on Saturday so I didn’t want to risk a race in the middle of it and burning out after 13miles.

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