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Run faster: speed workouts for your running personality

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Whether we admit it or not, most of us that run want to get faster. But the question of how to run faster has become quite complicated. From fartlek to track to stride, the choices of speed workouts are overwhelming. How do you decide?

It depends on your running type. What may be good for a pal, may not be right for you. Here are the three most common speed workouts — broken up by personality — that will help you run faster:

Runner type: Laid back, fun, up for anything
Speed workout: Fartlek
Description: Swedish word for “speed play.” Speed work at 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. In other words, these runs are comfortably hard. You should be able to say one to two word sentences.
Examples: Warm up 10-15 minutes, steady hard speed for 1-2 miles, very easy recovery for 5 minutes. Repeat several times during a scheduled run. Or easy running for 200m-400m followed by several quick steps for about 100m then back to easy running. Repeat several times during a training run.

Runner type: overachiever, perfectionist, calculated
Speed workout: track repeats
Description: Scheduled weekly workout of repeats performed based on race distance. For 5k, repeats are run between 200m-800m. For 10k, repeats are run between 200m-1600m. For half and full marathon, repeats can be run between 400-2000m. Each repeat is followed by a recovery jog of a specific distance, usually 200-400m. These repeats can be done on a track or treadmill.
Examples: 5k training: 12-16x 200-400m with 30-60 second recovery. Marathon training: 5x 1600m with 400m recovery.

Runner type: beginner, not a serious competitor
Speed workout: Strides
Description: Short, fast 50-200m sprints during a regular training run. Run as fast as you can without compensating on good form and position. Usually done at the end of a 30-50 minute run once per week.
Examples: Run 30 minutes at a comfortable pace then sprint 6-10, 50-100m at a fast pace. Run 50 minutes at a comfortable pace, then sprint 6x200m at a fast pace.

Regardless of which speed session you choose, just doing one of these per week will make you run faster. Remember, it is important to pick paces appropriate for your current skill. There are several running calculators that can help you find the appropriate paces for your training. Also, speed workouts should only be done once per week as your body needs time to recover.

Written by Danielle Bressoud.

Related: Get faster with treadmill running | Your weekly mileage sweet spot