Speed Training for Beginner Runners

fartlekWe all want to get faster.  We all want to accomplish something we have never done before: a new distance, a new PR, this is what makes us runners.  When I first started running I was terrified of speed workouts.  I heard other runners use the terms 400 meter repeats, Yasso 800s, and tempo runs.  I was a run/walker who could barely run one minute at a time.  How on earth could I possibly run 400 meters?  After four years of running, I finally mustered up the courage to sign up for speed workouts with my local running store.  I showed up the first day shaking in my Brooks, but ended up having the time of my life and I fell in love with speed work!

Speed work is for everyone!  Runners, walkers, and run/walkers can all benefit from the boost a speed workout will give you.  Speed work makes you stronger, burns a few extra calories, and best of all makes you faster.  The trick that I quickly learned is that you have to modify the workout to meet your individual needs.  If you are a beginner looking to improve your pace, and a little nervous about speed workouts, the best way to start is with the fartlek.

Yes, you heard me right, fartlek…go ahead…get your giggles out now.  Fartlek is a Swedish term that means speed play and that is exactly what you do in this workout, you play with your speed.  I encourage you to try this one in your neighborhood or favorite running path because THIS WORKOUT IS NOT FOR THE TREADMILL.  Trust me, you will be bored out of your mind!

Before you start ask yourself one simple question: How far do I want to go?  If you want to go 3 miles divide your run into a half mile warm-up, 2 mile fartlek, half mile cool down.  If you are more of a time person and want to go 30 minutes, divide your run into a 5 minute warm-up, 25 minute fartlek, and a 5 minute cool down.  Adjust these numbers as you see fit. Remember, this is YOUR workout.

Start with a quarter to half mile warm-up.  You can walk, jog, or even dance yourself down the road but remember to take it easy.  Once you have completed your warm-up look ahead and select a point in the distance (a mailbox, tree, street sign, etc.) and run to it, picking up your pace a little.  Once you have reached your “spot,” slow down for two minutes then pick another point in the distance and repeat for the fartlek portion of your workout.  Once your fartlek distance/time is complete, cool down.

*If you are already a runner, your recovery period should be a slow jog, if you are a run/walker, try walking for the first minute and jogging the second minute.  If you are a walker, your fartlek should consist of power walking to your selected point and recovering at a comfortable pace.

I think you will discover that time flies by with this type of workout and before you know it you will be done and on your way to Sonic to buy a drink the size of your face…or maybe thats just me.


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