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Two easy ways for beginners to add speed

These simple speedwork sessions introduce faster running in small doses

woman running by Jeremy Stewart Photo by: Unsplash/Jeremy Stewart

Speedwork can sound intimidating, and new runners often avoid it until they’ve been logging regular miles for years. Even if you’re fairly new to running, speedwork is an essential addition to your weekly mileage–and it doesn’t mean you’ll be sprinting around a track until exhaustion. You can do your speedwork on the road, trails, track, or even the treadmill.

If you’ve been running for about six months and are injury-free, it’s safe to start incorporating short speed sessions into your training. Try these two simple workouts to get your legs used to moving quickly. As you get more comfortable, you can add repeats or lengthen intervals.

men road running
Photo: Unsplash/Chanan Greenblatt


Strides are a great way to begin adding speed to your sessions. Tack them on to the end of any easy run. Strides are like the multi-purpose tool of speedwork–runners training for very long distances will add them to training runs to remind their legs what it feels like to go at top speed. If you’ve never tried strides before, don’t worry: it’s hard to go wrong.

Start your strides running by going easy, focusing on a short, quick stride, and then gradually increase your speed by lengthening your stride. Focus on staying relaxed and running smoothly. It should feel like a controlled faster pace, not a sprint.

The workout:

Easy run (approx 30 minutes)

Four to five strides of 15 to 30 seconds each, 45 seconds rest in between

fall running woman
Photo: Unsplash/Fil Mazzarino

Short intervals

If this workout looks too daunting, simply shorten your intervals so that they seem manageable–30 seconds fast with a one-minute recovery is just fine. If you need to walk to recover, go for it. Don’t worry about your pace throughout the intervals, simply go by effort.

The workout:

Warm up with 10 minutes easy running

Five to eight repeats of one minute hard followed by two minutes easy running or walking to recover

Cool down with five to 10 minutes easy running

Recovery is a key component of speedwork, whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner. In these beginner speed workouts, the recovery intervals are longer in duration than the hard intervals. As you build strength, you can cut down recovery time to make the workouts more challenging. Speed workouts are considered hard training days so you will need a very easy recovery running or rest day following one.

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