For many of us, it’s still early into the training season and the emphasis is still on safely building mileage and remaining injury-free. Some however may be itching to get in some quality training while conditions are good and you’re feeling fresh. As such, short repeats are a great way to add some speedwork to your training.
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True speed training usually refers to one’s top end speed and is best accomplished through weekly strides or hill sprints (often done at the end of an easy run). But more relevant to the average runner, speed training means running at a variety of faster paces that are at or around goal race pace. This type of training specifically targets the energy systems needed to maintain those paces for prolonged periods. It also makes those paces feel more comfortable.
One of the simplest ways to develop this type of speed is to run fast for short periods of time. There are no shortage of workouts that incorporate short intervals such as 200m and 400m repeats. And for good reason: they work!
These repeats are often run at or slightly faster than 5K race pace with minimal rest in between. These workouts should ideally be done on a measured (200m indoor or 400m outdoor) track, but runners can also easily complete the repeats on the roads using a GPS watch.
In all cases, warm up with 10-15 minutes of very easy running as well as a few strides and form drills. When you’re ready, complete one of the following:
4-5 sets of 5 x 200m at 5K pace with 200m between reps and 400m between sets.
2-3 sets of 6-8 x 400m at 5-10K pace with 400m between reps and 800m between sets.
3-4 sets of 200-200-400-400 at 5-10K pace with 200m between reps and 400m between sets.
Be sure to cool down after completing the workout with another 10-15 minutes of easy running. Take the next day or two to run very easy or possibly not at all, before attempting another hard effort.