Timed Speed Work
Recently I had one of those runs. The kind where everything falls into place and it feels wonderful. My workout called for a 1 mile warm up before 2 x 2 minutes in zone 4 and 2 x 4 minutes in zone 4 with a short recovery in between, followed by a 1 mile cool down.
What was that again? Yeah, this was one of the workouts I had to reread a few times before my first training cycle with the Train Like a Mother Own It Plan for half marathons last fall. It felt confusing to me just reading it but after I did it once I had it down and it quickly became a favorite.
Fast forward to my current training plan and it is a run I look forward to when I see it on the plan. Last week I ran a progression run (on accident, really) and it was also much faster than a speed work session just a couple of days before.
The ‘progression’ part happened during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th miles. I was running 2 minutes hard, followed by a few minutes easy and then 2 minutes hard again. I then switched over to 4 minutes hard and repeated that cycle once.
I finished my run with a 9:02 average pace, including both the warm up and cool down miles. I had the runner’s high afterwards and felt like I had a ton of energy for the rest of the day.
This type of a run is so much easier for me that I have thought about running a race like this. I have my concerns with doing it though so I’m going to practice on some long runs this training cycle. I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t want to run an entire marathon like this but I can see trying it toward the end when my legs are tired. It would give me something to focus on instead of all the miles remaining.
Distance Speed Work
Also on my training plan are tempo runs. Right now I’m running tempo intervals (2 x 1.5 miles) and regular tempo runs (3 miles) which are so tough. They are the runs that I look at in my training plan and dread. Holding a fast pace for a certain distance when I’m not in a race setting is just not fun for me.
I’m currently in the process of trying to figure out the best way to monitor myself when I’m out running. I love my Nike+ Sportwatch and I don’t want to change to a different brand but it is lacking a couple of important features.  I would love to program my workout into my watch and have it beep at me when it’s time to run faster.  The actual pace is not accurate. It’s usually about a minute off.
So in order to figure out my 1.5 tempo pace while running last week I wore two watches.
Special, I know.
It didn’t really work either because when I tapped the splits while I was out running it didn’t show me the individual splits right then. I was able to go back after the workout and see my pacing. And I was off by about 30 seconds per mile. I want that immediate feedback so I can adjust my workout when needed. This one was a little tricky because I was trying to track 1.5 miles so it wasn’t showing up in my mile splits on my Nike+ watch either.
For my 3 mile tempo run the immediate feedback was somewhat easier. I just made sure that I heard my mile beep and adjusted pace accordingly.
Timed Speed Work vs. Distance Speed Work
So, as you can tell, I would much rather run by time than distance when it comes to speed work. I know there is great value in both forms of running so I’m working on getting excited about the tempo. I pumped myself up with positive thinking before my 3 mile tempo run yesterday and it worked. I wasn’t dreading the run before heading out! I need to feel better about these tempo runs because I’m running a lot of them over the next several months!
Do you run speed work by time or by distance? Which do you prefer?
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