When we last left our intrepid marathon trainee the Fit Fun Mom, she despaired over a lackluster 13-mile long run. Thank goodness the cutback week called for fewer miles and let her recover from a nagging head cold. We now join our fearless runner, who’s high after a successful speed workout and will now stop talking about herself in the third person. 🙂
It’s week eight of M2B marathon training. Nearly halfway done! Thank goodness Monday’s speed workout got knocked out of the park. Quarter-mile repeats are my new best friends!
Decoding the Speed Workout
The workout on my Run Less, Run Faster plan called for:
“10-20 min warmup 2 x (6 x 400 in 1:42) (90 sec RI) (2min30 RI bt sets) 10 min cooldown”
That’s a 10-20 minute warmup run, which I usually do at a 10-minute pace (6 miles per hour). I like to do speed workouts on the treadmill because it allows me to target a pace and know I’m hitting it consistently. I should increase the incline to adjust for the fact that I’m running on the treadmill but speed work is so new to me that I’m happy just to hit the pace at a 0% incline.
“2 x (6 x 400 in 1:42)” translates to two sets of six quarter-mile repeats at an average pace of 6:50, or 8.77 miles per hour. To help myself keep track of the repeats, I did one quarter-mile at 8.8 miles per hour, then did the next at 8.7 mph, then back up to 8.8 and so on.
The “90 sec RI” calls for 90 seconds of rest interval in between each quarter-mile repeat. For each ninety seconds of rest I walked at 3.5 miles per hour.
“2min30 RI bt sets” is a 2-minute 30-second rest interval in between the two sets of six quarter-mile repeats. Heavenly rest.
After six more quarter-mile repeats, I ended with a little rest after the last repeat, and a final mile at six miles per hour for the 10-minute cooldown. By the time I finished I had done 6.5 miles in 1:08. Not exactly speedy overall (or even speedy repeats for the most speedy of you readers out there), but a darn good speed workout for me. I think the fastest I’ve ever run is 9 miles per hour and so to do 12 400-meter repeats at 8.7/8.8 mph is huge! So satisfying. By the end, the sweat was literally flying. I’d swing my elbows to will my legs to keep up and the drops of sweat would fly off the ends of my elbows onto the gym windows (Sorry, people. I did wipe down the treadmill afterward but I left the windows alone).
The Benefits of Speed Workouts
Run Less, Run Faster explains the benefits of speed workouts as the following:
- Improve maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max)
- Increase running economy
- Improve speed
- Bust boredom (okay fine, that’s my own addition).
What’s VO2 max?
VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. It is measured as “milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight.”
(About.com Sports Medicine). The higher your VO2 max, the more energy you can produce.
What’s “running economy“?
Running economy is how efficiently your body uses oxygen. Some people argue that running economy is a better predictor of performance than VO2 max, and it’s also something that you have more control over than VO2 max, which is significantly controlled by genetics. (Runner’s World: “Efficient, See? Improve Your Running Economy and Go Longer and Stronger at Any Pace.”)
Do you do speed workouts? What’s your favorite? Do you do track repeats or hit the treadmill to gauge your speed?