Three Weeks of Speed Work

>> Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My first "speed test" that I don't count as speed work came on Sunday, September 4th, when I ran 1.5 miles a bit faster in the middle of a 5 mile run.

My first REAL speed work since March was 10 days later: Wednesday, September 14. I ran under 5 miles total, but the middle 3 were done a bit faster. I didn't kill myself pushing SO hard to the finish, but I ran hard enough throughout that I needed to walk for nearly 2 minutes after the 3 hard miles to catch my breath. I had a decent little descend over those 3 miles as I ran 6:15, 6:11, and 6:00 for a total of 18:26 (6:08.7 pace).

My second real speed workout came a week later: Wednesday, September 21. I ran over 5 miles that morning, and I wanted to really build to some speed for that workout. I had 2 thoughts pre-run that foreshadowed the workout: first, I told myself I didn't need to perfectly descend each HALF mile (as my Garmin takes my half mile splits), but should be able to descend each MILE. And secondly, to give a sense of where I wanted to start this workout and how much time I wanted to drop, I told myself I hoped to run something like 6:30, 6:10, and 5:50.

Well, I nailed both of those thoughts. First, I had perfect descending half mile splits: 3:19, 3:15, 3:06, 3:04, 2:56, 2:55 = 18:37.63, which was 6:12.54 pace. (That was slower than the week before overall, but the goal was to get faster at the end of this run, not "suffer" the entire way through like the week before.) And second, my mile splits were 6:34, 6:11, and 5:51 - not far off my intended times.

My third speed workout in 3 weeks came earlier this morning: 2x2 mile intervals. I first did 2 mile intervals with Coach Jen 6 years ago as she was training me for a few weeks to my only sub-60 10 mile at the 2010 TC 10 Mile. It didn't take much for me to fall in love with 2 mile intervals. Here's what I like about them:

- There's only 2. Your either running your first or last interval. It's easy to gauge how much you should "have left in the tank."

- They're not as fast (and therefore not as taxing) on your body, but they're still a "speed" workout. 800s are killer for me. 1600s are good "fast" speed sessions. But 2 mile intervals are somewhere around 10K race pace, which isn't going to make my body explode. (In fact, I've even done 2 mile intervals while pushing a sleeping child in the stroller before. Three or 4 times.)

- You don't need a track. I really like to run my 800s or 1600s on a track (for the sake of consistency), but I've never done 2 mile intervals on a track. I just go back-and-forth along the River somewhere in Minneapolis or St. Paul.

Because I don't have a ton of miles on my legs currently, I couldn't do this 2 mile workout how I normally do it, which is with a 2 mile warm up and 2 mile cool down. That's usually a great way for me to hit 8 miles in a day, but right now, my "normal" runs have been around 5-5.5 miles, and my "long" runs are just a mile farther. So I planned on just having a 0.75 mile WU and CD to make it a 5.5 mile workout total.

I wasn't concerned AT ALL with keeping my splits consistent or descending or anything like that. I just wanted to run hard for 2 miles, take a 3 minute break, and then do it again. My half mile splits were:

- 3:07, 3:03, 3:02, 3:07 = 12:20.15 (6:10.08 pace)
- 3:04, 3:12, 3:05, 3:05 = 12:29.33 (6:14.67 pace)

It's 2.5 weeks to my first race since March (the 15K relay at Fort Snelling where each runner runs a 5K ), and this was my last "long, hard" workout. I'll do some shorter speed next week (10 days pre-race) just to keep the legs snappy, and then see what I can do down on Pike Island for the race!

p.s. I'm trying to do a bit of speed work NOT to get "super fast," but to make sure my legs survive racing. When I came up injured at the end of March, I'd had a winter of good miles on my legs (including a half marathon and a 25K), but then I had 2 shorter back-to-back race weekends (a 4-mile and a 5-mile). Maybe it was doing that hard fast racing that injured me. We still don't know. So now in my mind, speed work is less about making me fast, and more about making me survive racing.


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