This week on our Wednesday workouts we will tackle the question of speed. To be more clear and specific we are not talking about overall speed which of course is the goal of any speed workout. Here we will be talking about the specific "pure speed" While other forms of workouts like Threshold workouts focus on building your tolerance to run faster longer before building up lactate or VO2Max workouts that build your bodies ability to utilize a higher percentage of oxygen, these target you bodies ability to turn the legs over faster for a short period of time. This translates to your ability to run a 100 meter for example faster than before.
Some of you may be asking why we care how fast we can run a 100 meter race if we are training for a 5K or half marathon? The answer lies in not having limiting factors. For example, if you can only run a 100 meters in what equates to a 5:00 min mile no mater how much you train all the other systems you will never run faster than a 5:00 min mile. You are in fact limiting your potential by having one running system remain weak. Pure Speed workouts focus on your fast-twitch fibers in your leg muscles and the central nervous system. First, as you do these workouts you are directly targeting and exercising the fast-twitch muscle fibers which don't see of lot of work on long and easy runs. Normally after 90 min or so the body may recruit them to help and they do get worked but outside of that they are not being developed. As these get stronger they will be available to even a distance runner during surges and especially in final sprints that could decide a race.
The biggest benefit of these pure speed workouts is the impact they have to the central nervous system. Specifically how the nervous system responds to you foot hitting the ground with each step and being able to quickly lift the foot back up for the next step. The longer you take to respond in this manner the longer the foot stays on the ground and the more braking or slowing action occurs with ever single step a runner takes. If you can picture a foot striking the ground as it does so we are technical slowing down until we push off again and lift the foot so the more we roll our foot and spend on the ground the slower we will run. Its easier said than done to say we will run with quick steps. It takes practice not just for the muscles but for the nervous system. This will increase your cadence (steps per minute) and increase your overall speed for any race.
So knowing this how do we go about incorporating these into our training regiment. I will tell you that on the surface these may seem like relatively easy workouts. For example when I say 6x150 many of you are thinking "I've done 6x1 mile or 8x800 before this should be easy!" We'll before you consider this an easy day and go away smiling consider the intensity levels. In order for your fast-twitch fibers to be engaged you need to run these pretty much all out 98-100% effort level. This will put your body firming above the anaerobic stage and tax your entire system in a manner that as distance runners we are not used to. Another factor that is very foreign to distance runners is the recovery time between reps. These are not strides where you do one and turn around and do the next one. These are full efforts then a 3-5 min recovery before you do the next one and so on. So 6x150 may take over 30 min to complete.The reason for the longer recoveries is to allow your fast-twitch fiber to recover receive oxygen and be ready to be used again.If they are not your distance minded body will natural rely on your slow-twitch fibers and you will not be working the right set of fibers and or systems. The last instruction is that the 150 only 100 of it is run at top speed. The first 30 is used to accelerate while the last 20 is used to decelerate. We are not sprinters and there is no need explode out of blocks in a race so we gradually build up speed and get into full stride with out risking pulling anything like a hamstring in that first 30. The last 20 we don't just stop as that can lead to shin splints or other issue we slowly decelerate to a stop in 20 meters.
Here is what a typical workout will look like:
1 mile warm-up
6x150 (30 accelerate/ 100 full speed/ 20 decelerate)
3-5 minute recoveries (no running but no standing around)
1-2 mile cool down
Optional if you are short of overall mileage for that day you can throw in a full run after but must be at easy pace so 3-6 miles Easy if you need to is an option.
Coach Rojas has 11 combined years of coaching experience at various levels including coaching a high school D1 State finalist team and 3 years in a row of a top 10 state ranking. He is passionate of the sport of running and loves to see new runners take up the sport! He wants to share a lifetime of running experience to all