Tips on starting speed training

So I haven’t written a posting in a while, things have been pretty hectic but all good.

I am very pleased to report that I am no longer having to bust a gut (literally!) and run home everyday from my job…No I haven’t passed my driving test yet but one of my friends recently got a job the road down from where I work so she drops me home everyday. I long for the day of independence when I can actually drive myself to and from work, although I feel for anyone that lives on any of the roads that I will be driving on wondering whether it will be safe to drive with ‘that Gell girl on the loose!’

Training has been going well. I’ve been finding that since doing a lot more speed work that my running has improved in leaps and bounds (no pun intended). I have been doing speed work for a while and hadn’t seen any improvement and then all of a sudden as if by magic I started to feel more confident in my running and my speed increased on non speed sessions. I can’t maintain it over 10-13k but over 7-8k I am going well.

My friend Roger who is coaching me from afar back in old Blighty said something interesting the other day, he said a lot of it is down to confidence and I think he is right. I have been doing good sessions and running 4 and 4.30 mins kms in speed training but not believed that when road running or running with others that I could truly do it, but feeling a bit more confident has brought all of that out in me and I am finally feeling like I am a runner again and can do a reasonable pace.

There are many different theories on speed sessions out there and many people complicate what should be very simple – simply run faster. If you haven’t tried speed sessions before, don’t be scared just be prepared to work harder than you would normally. It hurts at times but it’s so worth it. I often think when I am doing indoor speed sessions that people must think I am a crazy loon on the treadmill as my arms are pumping and my hair is probably all over the place, I am grimacing in pain and running faster than my body looks like it should be able to but I’ve learned to get into the zone and get on with it.

Trying speed sessions for the first time?

There is no right way to do speed sessions but I have a few tips based on experience. Remember I am not a qualified trainer but have been running a while so base any tips on things I have experienced, but don’t take what I say as the only way to do things!

Start gently and slowly

If your normal comfortable speed is say 7 min kms don’t think you can suddenly start speed sessions at 4 min kms and not find it hard and risk injuring yourself! Be realistic and maybe try a minute or so faster in your interval training and work up to it.

Speed and long runs

If you know you can push yourself in your normal training go for it, but don’t go flat out in every session. The guys I used to run with back in London that had been runners for decades always said to me speed sessions = speed and no talking, and longer runs and non speed sessions you should be able to have a conversation on your way round. I admit I don’t always do this and often I do push but a lot of the time I do observe this so that my training is varied and more importantly enjoyable. I don’t enjoy running flat out every day and I run because I enjoy it so something has to give!

Warm up

I used to laugh at the people that would do their shuttle runs before races and I still find it incredulous now in marathons that people do, but I understand it in shorter races. I have found in all of the 5k races that I have run I have had to start as I mean to go on so there is no time for easing into the race gently like I might to with a marathon and this goes for the same in training – speed = working the body harder therefore it needs to be warmed up, so I always do a few minutes warm up before launching myself into my speed session.

No more than 15% of weekly mileage

The rule of thumb that I have always stuck to and most people advise on is that speed sessions (unless training for something specific) should not be any more than 15% of weekly mileage. If you are just starting out that should be a definate.

A few articles on speed training that you might be interested in:

Good old Runners World

General article on speed sessions

First speed sessions


One thought on “Tips on starting speed training

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  1. thank you for what you do and give to us. I’m looking forward to your mails and i think we are alot alike’

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