Speed Workouts: Easing Back In with Intervals

This morning I went to the track for my first “speed” workout in months. The last time I ran around that oval was December; I was apprehensive to set foot on it again.

Our running group started track workouts late last Fall, and I quickly learned that this is something you should ease into. I went out hard and fast, my Heart Rate (HR) usually shot through the roof, and my hamstrings were tight for the days following. Intervals engage those legs in an entirely different way; fast-twitch muscle fibers use anaerobic metabolism “to generate short busts of strength or speed”, and are considered “an asset” to the sprinter. (Source)

Before deciding my target pace, I took a few things into consideration:

  • I raced these muscles 3 days ago, at a faster pace than they  have run in at least two months
  • I haven’t taken a full Rest day in over a week (alternating biking in with my runs)
  • I haven’t done Intervals since December

The last thing I want right now (or, ever) is an injury from overtraining, since I’m not actually training. With all of that in mind, I decided on 4 x 800m – resting in between to bring my HR down to 100. Target pace – 7:30 min/mile.

Intervals are defined as “fast bouts of running”, but actually refer to the time you spend recovering between speed segments, or “repeats”. (via RW)

I did a quick one mile warm-up at ~9:45 pace. My HR stayed within 135-145, nice and slow.

Sidenote: Apparently I forgot to press the “lap” button correctly each time, so I don’t have actual “times” for each 800m, just the approximate pace. G and I are working on that for next time.

#1, 800m – 6:35
#2, 800m – 6:27
#3, 800m – 6:45
#4, 800m – 6:14

Well, needless to say my “target pace” was a little off. After the first round, I realized I have NO concept of my faster pace anymore. I had no idea I was moving that quickly, and by the third one I was already feeling fatigue.

While the original plan was 6 x 800m, I think being “conservative” with the first round was smart. It’s important to let your legs ease back in to hard workouts – I have plenty of time to build up and adjust my muscles to this speed.

For the last round, push it hard! See what you have left (but don’t pull anything), and feel that last surge of energy shoot through those fast-twitch fibers!

Each interval was met with a ~2 minute cooldown (immediately going into a SLOW jog, then walking to rest). After all four, I did a 1 mile cooldown at ~10 min/mile pace.

Speed workouts are back! Next up: The Tempo Run, my favorite.


What’s your favorite type of track/speed run? How often do you include them in your training?

I plan on including speed and hills at least once per week, and building my strength and speed up for my next “plan”, which is TBD. 🙂



Filed under early morning, interval training, making plans, running, Speed workouts, things that make me Happy

12 responses to “Speed Workouts: Easing Back In with Intervals

  1. Now this is what I like to see. You will definitely only see improvement from here!

    I cheat and use the treadmill so I can look at minutes, incline, etc. As much as you hate the burn, it feels so good once you are done. Torching those muscles!

  2. Elizabeth

    I’m still a little bitter about the track workouts, since I’m pretty sure that’s what aggravated my hip last fall. That, or Gar Williams in the snow.

    That said, I know I still need speed work, but I think that’s what the treadmill’s for (for now).

  3. Nice workout! VERY speedy on the 800s. I try to include speed work weekly, switching from tempos to intervals. I definitely prefer intervals but I know I would benefit from longer tempo runs and hope to EMBRACE them this summer!

  4. J

    Great job on the speed work!! I am sure as you get back into doing more interval workouts you will get your feeling of the pace back!

  5. Wow, I am impressed. Doing speed work just a few days after the 10k. And, you are speedy! In the 6’s! Dang!

  6. I actually REALLY enjoy the track! I am taking this week off from a track workout because my shin is acting up a little but I think I’ll do 800’s next week. I did 400’s last week and felt like I was going to die but loved it just the same 🙂

  7. speed work in a swamp! wtg! wait, is it still humid? i haven’t gone outside yet.

    anywayyyyy….good on you! i also heart the tempo run. it’s delicious.

  8. Yes, I’m hoping for a tempo run tonight, but seeing as how I still can’t kick this cold I might just have to take it easy and run slow just to get in the mileage. Good work at easing back into it.

  9. Jo

    Hi! I love your blog! I live in DC too and am always looking for a track to run on. What track do you go to?


  10. Way to be smart about it! I’m sure your legs will thank you—and I’m sure the four reps you did will increase your turnover and efficiency more than you can imagine.

    My fave speed workout: three or four mile repeats at 5K pace with jogs in between. Great prep for a distance race, even better for a 5K confidence booster!

  11. i need to be better about speed work and hills. i should really sit down and make up my own plan that is just what works for me! 🙂

    great job on the workouts- your nailing them lately! 🙂 keep it up my dc RB ❤

  12. Pingback: Tuesday’s Tempo Run Trial « Dietitian on the Run

Let's Hear It!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s