In training for my first half marathon, I did no speed work at all. I’m lucky I even found a suitable training plan (although I’m a planner, so I guess that’s not a stretch). In my attempts to get faster over the last year, speed work is something I’ve done a bit of. In the spring, I started doing HIIT training, and it led to me running a 5 mile race at around 8:12 per mile. I really saw that speed work works.
As I planned out my training for the marathon (my first, in January), the plan that I was doing didn’t call for speed work beyond a few “pace” runs at MGP. At first I decided that wasn’t a big deal, but I will be running 26.2 miles; I shouldn’t be concerned about speed. But then the realization hit me: I am. I am concerned about speed, and I do have a goal time in mind beyond finishing. I mean, I definitely have the goal of finishing, but I would also like to reach a certain time. I haven’t decided exactly what the time is yet, but I know I’d like to have a goal time to shoot for.
Because of that desire, I’ve started incorporating a little bit of speed work into my Tuesday runs. I’ve done some progression runs and some interval training, but this past Tuesday I decided to give Fartlek training a shot. I’d read about it on Sarah‘s blog, and the funny name has stuck out to me other places too. I’ve never, though, worked to figure out what it is. So Tuesday, I did.
There are two kinds of fartlek: structured and unstructured. I found a great writeup from Competitor to help me explain what it is. Basically, it’s increasing your speed to different, faster paces for varied periods of time and a bit of a recovery period in-between. I went with structured, because I was doing it on the treadmill. I followed this plan:
I ran on an incline of 1.0 with my recovery and warmup speeds being 6.0, half marathon pace at 6.9, 10k pace at 7.3, 5k pace at 7.9, and 1 mile pace at 8.6. I did the actual set three times through, and on the first it was a little too easy, on the second I realized it was getting harder, and on the third it felt how speed training should be.
An unstructured fartlek is decided on a whim as you’re running. You decide how fast you’re going and how far. You could see a stoplight way up ahead and decide to run at 10k pace until the stoplight, and then another time knowing your route and plan to run half marathon pace until you hit a certain neighborhood entrance. That’s pretty much how I understand it to be, and I think it’s supposed to be pretty simple. It seems, though, from the slew of speedsters who use it, to really work!
So I’m going to try different fartlek plans on the next few Tuesdays to give myself some speed training. I guess if I want to carry any speed at all in the marathon, I’ll have to run on tired legs in training to get in the habit.
Do you do speed training?
What other fartlek workouts have you come across?
What other speed training plans have you done that worked for you?