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May 3, 2012

The Holy Grail of Running: The Track

by hammonjj

When you talk to most endurance athletes, they will tell you about how many yards they swam, how many miles they biked or hours run, but there’s something that many miss: speed work.  When asked about structured training (speed work), it’s almost like ask a war veteran about their experiences.  No one likes to talk about it.  There’s this sense that the thing that athletes fear most is hard intervals.  It’s easy to just drone away for endless hours in the saddle, but allow me to set the record straight, and I make no apologies for what I’m about to say, if you are serious about getting fast and want to take your racing to a new level, you have to learn to love hard training.  There’s no two ways about it.

For many runners, this hard training is done in one of two way (sometimes both), either in short intervals on the track to develop leg turnover and form or tempo/threshold runs out on the road to develop a (and even increase) race pace.

Currently, I’m placing stock in both kinds of intervals.  On Tuesdays, I do a classic, yet highly effective, track workout, but on Saturdays, during my long run, I push the pace to my limits in order to develop sustained speed.  So far my progress in both has been fantastic.  Only a few weeks ago I was training my 5k speed and I predicted my pace was 7:30 per mile, but, after a couple of intense weeks, I’m already looking at a solid 5:45 per mile pace.  The workouts are as follows:

Track Set #1

Warm Up:
10 min – Easy Jog

Main Set:
400meters – Run at 5k pace
200 meters – Recovery jog
Repeat 15 times

Cool Down:
10 min – Easy Jog

Track Set #2

Warm Up:
10 min – Easy Jog

Main Set:
1000 meters – Run at 5k pace
2 minutes – Complete recovery
Repeat 5 times

Cool Down:
10 min – Easy Jog

Simple, challenging and effective: everything a workout should be.  There’s no need for magic, just plain ‘ole hard work will get you were you want to be.  I plan on mixing it up in the future, specifically choosing longer intervals for a more race like training session, but this is perfect for now.  Once I’m 6 weeks out I will change to the longer sets.  I also hope that I’ll be running at 5:30 mile pace by that time!

Anyone else have any fantastic ideas for track workouts?  I’d love to hear about them!

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