It’s Always Training Season

My bags are unpacked, my medal is put away and — after a Chisel and Spinning session at the gym tonight — my legs are no longer sore.

The National Half Marathon is officially over. Sad!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still psyched about how well the race went. I’ll be happily sticking with my new race record for a while.

(Whoa devil eyes — I can’t wait to someday get a pretty new camera that doesn’t cause such crazy red eye all the time.)

I love having a goal to work toward at all times, so it should come as no surprise that I have another half marathon on the horizon. In addition to shorter local races, including April’s Scotland Run 10K and NYRR 4 Miler, I’m registered for the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 21.

I registered for this race mainly to help me work toward the New York Road Runner 9+1 program, which will get me guaranteed entry to the 2012 New York City Marathon. I’m excited to run in Prospect Park, which I’ve never done, and I’ve heard lots of good things about this race.

More importantly, having this race around the corner will keep me on a solid training plan. While I kept my training for the National Half really flexible — I mainly just mapped out my weekend long runs and did whatever I felt like during the week — I’d like to make a change as I prepare for Brooklyn.

I don’t have a goal time in mind and I don’t feel the need to PR again (though that’ll probably change as race day nears — I can’t help my competitive nature). But I do want to maintain the strong foundation I’ve developed over the past few months, and I want to build on it to become a more solid runner.

The biggest addition I’d like to make is adding more speed work to my weekly runs. By “more” I mean any. I’ve never done speed training before.

I’m perfectly content to hit the road and run double digit miles on pretty much any given day. But the idea of speed training sounds like torture to me. If I had a running coach I’d do it. Someone standing there, yelling at me to push harder, run faster? Oh you bet I’ll listen. But so long as I’m out there on my own, I’m probably going to opt for a solid pace and lots of miles.

THIS IS WHERE I NEED YOUR HELP: I know many people rely on speed work and say it has done wonders for their training. Are you one of those people? Tell me about the speed training you do so that I can get motivated. I’m not shelling out for a running coach, but I’ll gladly use all the [free] inspiration and tips you’ll throw my way.

Oh and if any of you NYC runners want to sign up to yell at me while I run, I’m game!



0 Responses

  1. Before I was officially coached, I just varried my pace between runs. It would depend on my mood, the day and who I was running with, but I had a HUGE pace range. If you are feeling good, up the speed for the middle few miles of a run or do fartleks once a week. You can also just steal interval repeats from other bloggers and Runners World 🙂

  2. I have several points in no particular order:

    – congrats on the great race…the half marathon is my favorite distance.

    – I love the jazz hands

    – Paragon offers speedwork on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and they are both FREE (always a good price)! They have bag check at paragon…we meet at 6:30, warm-up and cool down is about 1.5 miles to the east river track on 6th st and the coaches kick my butt. I went religiously last year and I PR’ed in every distance from 1 mile to 13.1

  3. I am actually running the 3 NYRR races you mentioned so hopefully I’ll see you on the course. If you hear someone yelling at you as you speed by, it’s me! 🙂 I’m most looking forward to the Bklyn Half as I was made in Brooklyn. 🙂

  4. if you’re doing a 1:44 with no speed training…you’re going to be an animal with speed training.

    the most important speed work I do is my tempo runs. I am now a big fan of the “split tempo” because it’s easier to handle mentally. start small and do 1.5 miles @ tempo pace (I use a 5kish pace but really just going FAST) and then a mile easy then another 1.5 mile tempo and keep increasing.

    I also like doing small bursts of speed when I’m just getting back into speed work- one of my fave early season runs is 1 min fast 1 min easy, 2 min fast 2 min easy, 3 min fast 3 min easy all the way up to 6, 7 8 or so and then back down. Really awesome workout and no pace goal just pushing it!

    Also, in my longest comment ever. Run with faster people. That’s what has really pushed me. Find a running team that does track workouts and group runs and tag along. You’ll be amazed what you’re capable of.

    Okay I’m done.

    1. This is so incredibly helpful — THANK YOU!

      Since you recommend running with speedier people, when are you volunteering to come to NYC to train me? Because that would be really great…

  5. I do tempo runs and mile repeats…mile repeats are killer! I’m also running the NYRR 4-miler! It’ll be my 3rd race out of 9! Getting close!

  6. nice work on the Half Mary!
    Missed you out there as I ran late and had to bolt over to Mile 15-16.

    I am a believer i speed work for sure. One quick and easy way is sprint intervals. My recipe is something like this…
    2 Min easy, then, 30 seconds ‘Demons are chasing you’ fast.
    Repeat 5-10 times.

    Cross training is key, but it sounds like you already are on that anyway!

  7. Speed training for me is usually intervals… Tempo runs I personally find work better for long distances… Speed work for 1/2 – fulls for me would consist of 800 metre or mile repeats

  8. I just started working speed training in to my normal routine a few months ago. I mix things up and once a week do intervals and then the next week do a tempo run or fartleks. Since I don’t have access to a track, I do my intervals either on the treadmill or on the sidewalk in front of my house. (I’m sure I look like a fruit cake sprinting back and forth, but whatever, it works.)

  9. Before I got injured I was incorporating speedwork into my training once a week. I thought it was helping but then I injured my leg. 🙁
    You’re already speedy without speed training – think how fast you’d be WITH!!

  10. I also believe in speed training and I think it helped my running! I did it mostly on the treadmill as I did this throughout the winter but I can’t wait to bring it to a track outside 🙂 I followed a plan from my Ironman friend. Very basic but it help.

    Warmup (5-10 minutes)

    2min, 4min, 2 min (repeat)
    The first 2 minutes are at your regular running speed, the next 4 minutes are at a pace you would never consider and you cannot talk, cool down for 2 minutes. Repeat as many times as you want. I added a repeat every week starting with 4 the first week.

    Cool down

    Enjoy! Its a fun challenge to add to your runs. It makes time and distance go by so fast!

    1. I love this! Thank you for sharing. Usually when people talk about speedwork they use terms like “4 x 800” and to be honest I have NO idea what that means. I like the idea of breaking down sprints by time, not distance. Thanks!

  11. i like to use smartcoach on the runnersworld website as a training guide for races. They incorporate a tempo run or 2 during the week and a long run on the weekends… maybe you can start there?

  12. I, like you, used to just hit the pavement and worry only about keeping a steady pace and hitting my mileage, not about pushing my speed. I started speed workouts last winter (first time since high school XC!) and it did wonders for my race times. I PR’ed in both 5k and half marathon distance last summer and I give speed work all the credit! I now run with a racing group that holds speed workouts on a 400 meter track on Tuesday mornings in the spring/summer – our coach provides the workouts each week. But before that, I took a treadmill class, once a week, at Equinox that incorporated both speed and hills into the workouts. I swear by this class! Before THAT, I used workouts from Runner’s World and would make myself run one of them each week. I won’t lie, it was reeeeally hard to make myself run those speed workouts from RW alone, but after seeing my pace speed increase on my long runs, I was hooked! It is so motivating to see your hard work pay off in the form of PRs!

    I look forward to hearing how you incorporate speed into your routine!

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I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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