so, is that good?

Every week I get an e-mail from the running group recapping the weeks events, and every week there is talk about how my running friends are getting faster because they attend speed workouts on Tuesday & Thursdays.

I don’t attend speed workouts (they are an 1hr drive away) & I don’t do speed workouts on my own..and every week I worry that they are going to leave me in their dust, and I’ll be left to do long runs by myself, and I definitely don’t want to do that. So Tuesday night I got the e-mail, and once again there was talk about how speedy my friends are getting! Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic for them! But I don’t want to get left behind!

I decided I have to suck it up (buttercup) and do some speed stuff. Up until this point I’ve magically gotten faster without any sort of real speed stuff, but I think I’ll tap out eventually and then I’ll just be stuck, and I don’t want to be stuck. So just like with anything else, I’m taking the first step to improving my pace.

Since I’m basically clueless when it comes to the way things should be done I went to McMillan for some help. I plugged in my most recent 10k time, 48:40, and McMillan spit out some numbers. image

So. I really don’t know how to read this thing. What is the different between a sprint workout & a speed workout? I feel like I’m sprinting when I’m running a 7:30pace! That’s not sprinting?

I’m interpreting the chart to say that I should be running my 400’s between 1:42 – 1:48 … correct?

Well that didn’t happen.


So since I don’t actually know what I’m doing; I’m quite happy with these results. This was my very first interval workout outside. I’ve done one on the treadmill, and that is the extent of my interval workouts. Hi, I’m lazy.

I felt pretty good during the fast intervals. My breathing was a little wonky, but nothing I couldn’t tolerate. I could feel myself getting tired towards the end, but it was a “I should feel tired, I’m running hard” kind of tired. Not a, “you are such a wuss” kind of tired. I felt like I was working for that pace.

I do think that I should have made my recovery intervals slower. They got slower the further into the run I got, but I think I was dumb to do the recovery intervals at anything under 9, right? I don’t know. ugh. — I started realizing that I could recover better if I actually slowed down enough to catch my breath. what a concept.

Dare I say that this was a fun workout? It was weird counting down by 1/4 miles, but the miles did click off really quickly. 400’s might be fun, but I doubt 800’s are fun. 1/4 mile goes by really quickly, but a 1/2 mile? Hm. Maybe once I get more comfortable with the 400’s I can graduate to the 800’s?

Advice on speed workouts? What is the benefit of a 400 vs 800? or is an 800 better than a 400?

This is all so confusing.


8 thoughts on “so, is that good?

  1. Dare I say Deja vu?? Well, Im saying it. This morning I looked at my McMillan training paces for my goal 1/2 marathon time & did a very similar workout – treadmill though. I warmed up for 1 mile, did 6 x 400 meters, all at 7:19, with .2 recovery in between at 9:40-10:00 pace. I finished with 1 -800meters at 9:00 (goal 1/2 marathon pace) and then 1 mile cool for a total of 5 miles. Anyhow, now that I wrote all that out, I guess I think you did great because I did the same thing. 🙂

    I think you’re right that slower recovery is good. Some people even say to walk during recovery, but I don’t do that. I also wonder how long of recovery is ideal? I suppose it varries. I also am unsure as to which McMillan paces to use. I figure I’m not training for sprints, so I usually stick with the speedwork paces for middle distance runners. Anyhow, I think you did great. I’d slow down your recovery to a comfortable pace, and I’d warm up and cool down with at least a mile for each.

    I’m interested to see the other responses you get because as you can tell from my comment, I have questions too! I may post about this exact thing tonight if I get to it, don’t think I’m stealing your thunder. 🙂 Happy speedworking.

    • P.S. My (limited) understanding tells me you can mix it up for effective speedwork. Maybe alternate 400s and 800s or do some of each in one workout if you feel like it. Or heck, do 600s. 1 mile repeats are good too, but that’s probably the farthest for 1/2 training. Anyhow, just my .02 🙂

  2. You are generally training for distances in the 10K to half marathon range, yes?

    I would ignore the sprint intervals section (that would be if you were training for 1500M, 3K or a track 5K) and focus on the “Speed Workouts” section for your shorter speed workouts (like the one you recapped). The “Cruise Interval” section is (at least in my understanding) intended for workouts in which you do more total distance with minimal recovery…so, like, if you were to go do 4-5 mile repeats with a minute recovery, those would be your target paces.

    You are definitely not “tapped out” – you’re a talented runner, but I think that if you want to get faster, at some point you ARE going to need to add in some speedwork (which can be fun, as you said!) and maybe even slow down your long runs a little if you need to.

  3. No brilliant advice from me except that I think it is necessary to add speed work to keep getting faster. I think it is awesome that you are getting out there on your own to do it, it takes a lot more determination to get out there alone and push through it!

  4. My only “speedwork” involves nothing technical at all.. Just basically sprinting on the treadmill for at least 1/10th of a mile and trying to hold it for 1/4 of a mile. Recover and Repeat 🙂

  5. Jena, virtually no one in our entire 200 member running group does speed or track workouts. Instead properly executed Interval and Tempo drills are what will make you stronger, faster and enable you to keep up the Jonses’, I.e. Jackie Bradley’s of the world. So you felt, and I quote “pretty good” during the speed workout? Hum, Houston, we have a problem. Middle distance and long distance athletes (10K to the Half), like you need to throw out those 400’s and instead concentrate on 800’s (intervals) and 1 miles (tempo’s). I will email you when I get a chance to suggest a couple of target time goals for each based on your stunning 48:40 current St Pete Classic PR. Don’t fret, we’ll help you get rid of that “feeling good.” Jackie ran a 7:14 mile last week and so should you. Oh, and your hair looks great.

  6. I’ve been doing my speed work with a running group and I’m pretty sure its made me faster – I did manage to break a 3.5 yr old PR on a training run after a few weeks of speed work. I probably just had a great day but I’m giving the speed work some serious credit!

    So far in our group we have only done intervals – 100 x 100 and 200 x 200. The coach marks out the distance and we run out hard, recover on the way back. On this weeks speed work I noticed that my recovery runs were a bit fast and once I slowed that down I could put a little more effort into the hard run. I think it is just hard to really slow down when you have all that momentum and blood pumping!

    I don’t know the technical different between speed and sprint but I’m going to guess the sprint is just balls out running while speed is maintainable?

    • I wish that I was able to go do speed work with the group on Tuesdays & Thursdays, but i’d have to leave my house at like 4:45AM.. Uhm. No.

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