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The importance of speed work

If you are comfortable with running and lower paced runs, it  may be time to add some speed work into your routine. I know how a lot of you like to go out and run as fast as you can every time you run. I always say “slow down and take it easy.”  Today I am going to tell you to pick up your pace.

Today I did a 4 mile run at 10k pace. That means I ran 4 miles at a pace where I would race 6 miles. The 4-mile run today was very painful. I had a few gears left and could have gone a little faster but I was spent at the end of the run. The best way to find your 10k pace is to go run a 10k race. Wearing a heart rate monitor also helps to gauge your overall effort level.  I have been running for 15-20 years and I still wear a heart rate monitor. You should only do this once a week.

Another speed workout I do is called pickups. I tell most people who are new to running to walk from one telephone pole to the next, and then jog from one telephone pole to the next. Alternate this for a few miles. Running speed work is very similar to this except the heart rate monitor is important here. Jog until you get to your medium range heart rate. When you get there, find a telephone pole and go flat out until you get to the next pole. Jog until your heart rate goes back down to the target then repeat. I usually do this routine for about 4 miles and my sprints spread out more and more as the run progresses. My heart rate for this routine is 145 – 155. Near the end, I tend to cheat and pick up the pace slightly as my heart rate gets close to 145. To punish myself for that sloth, I just take off at 147 or where I catch myself cheating. Do this routine no more than once per week.

These two techniques will help you build speed and strength, but remember to recover after these hard workouts. If something hurts, take it easy and skip the higher intensity workouts for the week.

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