October 9, 2012

Training Tuesday: Lazy Girl's Guide to Speedwork

Fellow teacher-runner-reader-blogger Shannon asked to hear more about my lame attempts at speedwork, so here goes!  First, you should know three things:  1. I have no idea what I'm talking about.  2. I hate speedwork.  3. (And most importantly) Even though I am completely making it up as I go, my lame attempts at speedwork got me a 29:26 5K, a huge achievement for me.  So I'll tell you what I've been doing!
The Track.  My Eternal Frenemy.
In August, I conquered an irrational running fear--the track.  Seriously, I was afraid of running at the track and definitely afraid of trying to be something I've never been--fast.  It was way less scary to just say, "Oh, no biggie, I'm a slow runner" than to actually try to work to get faster!  But I sucked it up and started my speedwork journey!

My first time at the track, my plan was to run 3 x 400, or 3 laps around the track.  I swapped my garmin for my good old timex ironman stopwatch, jogged an easy lap to warm up, then headed to the "starting line" for my first speed lap.  I hit the start button on my watch and got running!  After one lap, I stopped my watch, and walked it out.  I think the idea for speedwork is to jog between intervals, but as a run/walker and a total speed newbie, I definitely need a walk after each lap!  I usually walk down and back one straightaway on the track after a lap, then get ready to do another.  My goal is just to make each lap faster than the one before--sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't!
During my 5K training and beyond into my half-marathon training, I've run the same number of 400s two weeks in a row, then added another lap.  This week was 7 x 400.  Holy tired.  I totally hate speedwork, I'm not gonna lie.  It hurts, it's tiring, and it's pretty darn boring.  Not as bad as the dreadmill, but the track is not exactly a forest preserve trail!  To be honest, I know it's totally wrong, but I tend to stop, sit, or even lay down between 400s towards the end...I know, I know, totally not the right way to do speedwork, but like I said, I'm doing the best I can!

At the end of the day, yes, it's painful, and yes, I'm not exactly doing speedwork 100% by the books, but at the end of the day I can say that I'm way faster now than when I started.  My easy runs are now in the 10:30s instead of the 11:30s, my long runs are in the 11:30s instead of the 12:00s, and I finsihed my speedy 5K with an average of 9:25.  When I ran the Zoo Run Run 5K with Katy last month, she commented that I definitely have gotten faster!  Sooo even though I'm not into pain and totally dread my speedwork session every week, I will keep doing what I have to do if it means I might be able to nail the elusive sub 2:30 next month!  Fingers crossed!

What does your speedwork look like?
Speedwork: love it? hate it?  deal with it?


  1. Thank you I can teach and still have a life!

  2. Thanks for the shoutout, Amy!! :)

    So how many times each week do you do your speedwork? And since I don't teach math (LOL), do you do:

    3 laps 3 times with a walk lap between?
    3 single laps with a walk lap between each?

    Does that make sense?

    It's really late! :)


    1. Hi Shannon! If the workout is 3 x 400, I sprint a lap, walk break, sprint another lap, walk break, and sprint a third lap. If it's 6x400, same thing but 6 fast laps with walking in between.

  3. I actually like speed work but I'm intimidated by the track -- I always imagine everyone at the university track is an elite runner. Your plan sounds good to me and hey! it worked!
    My Running Shortz

  4. Amy-

    I know why I was confused. The track at my school is small-not the standard track. It takes 8 laps to make a mile. I would have to sprint 2 laps to make 400m. I think. :)

    I think I'll try a 1 X 400 tomorrow. :)



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