#Running – Lessons Learned (number 9): don’t neglect the speed work!

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Speed insightToday, I noticed a great blogpost in Runners World, “6 mistakes runners make (and how to fix them)“. The bad news is, I could say “yes !” to all 6 of them, with great enthusiasm. The good news is, for most of these points, I made some progress.

(Source of this – great – Johan Cruyff quote:  http://quoteaddicts.com/106793)

The most difficult one remains (for me), giving speed work the attention it deserves. I like running, and I don’t mind doing decent distances. But speed work, that’s really suffering, for me. I have observed this with many distance runners: doing a 30 km run is big fun, but doing the Yasso 800’s is another story. ( By the way, the Yasso 800’s test is fairly simple test, in his own words: “If I can get my 800s down to 2 minutes 50 seconds, I’m in 2:50 marathon shape. If I can get down to 2:40 (minuses), I can run a 2:40 marathon“). But most runners (including myself) happily neglect the speed work. The problem with this, is described as follows:

“Runners cannot live on mileage alone. Here’s what happens when you skip strength and speedwork entirely: 1) Atrophy of fast-twitch fibres, 2) Decrease in neuromuscular recruitment and efficiency, 3) Increase in lactate accumulation during high-intensity exercise, and 4) Decreased muscle-buffering capacity (ability to neutralise lactic acid buildup)”

Not sure what all of this means, but the bottom-line is that speed work remains a “must” in any training scheme, whatever your age, whatever your ambition. Now, the more interesting question, how to fix it ?

“Adding regular sessions of short hill repeats, fast strides or form drills reinforces muscle-fibre and nervous system development. Moderate tempo, fartlek or hill runs preserve lactate removal and buffering capacity.”

Practically, the following methods work best for me, they are also in “4 Ways to Build Speed Workouts Into Your Runs“:

Hill training. I used to hate it. But honestly speaking, more recently I started to appreciate it. supposed to be hardAnd it’s true, if you manage to include this in your training sessions from time to time, it makes you feel stronger. OK, it means suffering, speeding up when running uphill, and slowly recovering when jogging downhill. After 30 or 45 minutes, you have suffered more than you would ever dream of during a 30 km session.

So it’s supposed to be hard! (source = http://runningforhht.com/2012/02/09/192)

Fartlek: a playful & more creative way of incorporating speed work in your runs, you choose objects to run to (a plant, a tree, a building, or whatever you observe at the required distance). The idea is that both distance & speed can be played with.

Strides on a track: I am less familiar with this, until today track running is not my cup of tea.

Running 10K races is of course big fun !

“Entering 10 K races now and then will do two things: first, it will help you learn to run at a constant pace over a longer period of time. Second, since much training advice is based on a runner’s 10K time, knowing your personal benchmarks at these distances can help you tailor your speed workouts.”

The only problem with those 10K races is that they takes me a while to recover (fully) from.

Any tips & tricks on faster recovery from 10K races ?

So, for your next training sessions, here’s my advise :

Run like you stole

(Source: http://www.runningspeed.net/funny-inspiring-running-quotes-on-runners-t-shirts )

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