Let’s Talk About Running: Speedwork Workouts and Ways To Jazz Up Your Plan

My first LTA post talked about the parts of a training plan, and my second LTA post talked about how to put the parts together. What I want to talk about in this third one will be shorter, I promise: I want to talk about a couple fun run workouts you can do once you start getting up there in mileage, to keep your runs more interesting and add variety. Remember, if you keep running the same thing, you’re going to keep running the same thing. Changing it up is what makes you better.

Most of these variations involve some kinds of speedwork, so you’re really going to want to save this for a day your legs need that extra push — an actual speedwork day in your schedule, a week you aren’t also upping your long run, a recovery run where you feel great and want a little extra push. Or, maybe you’ve reached a weekly mileage you’re happy with – your body’s used to the long runs – and you need to step it up in intensity another way. (Please don’t overwork your workouts — injuries and burnout are so prevalent, and so easy to do. Make sure you’re listening to your body overall.) Or maybe you have to run on a treadmill because it’s really freaking hot where you live (…) and you need to make that run interesting.

Here are some of the things I like to throw into my runs …!

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Week 03: Tuesday Summary

Well, I should know this by now, but the best way to beat the workout-health-emo-doldrums is to work out.

Today’s run was great. It felt great – which is something I can’t often say for running; I’m a chronically injured asthmatic, so most of my runs feel like something passed through a meat grinder – and I’m happy with my performance.

The goal was 4-5 mi of speedwork. I decided to do what I like to call a Mile Dial Down (sounds cool when you say it!): run a mile at a medium tempo pace, and then step down – 1, 0.75, 0.5, 0.25, and 0.1 – getting faster for every interval. They’re separated by a recovery jog (which for me today was a recovery walk) just to recover breath and heart rate; I did 0.2 mi jogging or walking in between.

Here’s my run.

The overall average speed is slow, sure, but each leg gets significantly faster (it’s easier to see the progression looking at the splits; the overall averages are a little wonked because of the treadmill’s slow response to speed changes), and the average is weighted down by warmup and cool down respectively.

AND – important – my heart rate actually came down during my rest/off intervals. I’ve had problems not taking my rest intervals seriously enough in the past, and it’s ruined runs before, whether from asthma or exhaustion. Surprise – taking your running a little easier makes it more enjoyable. WHO KNEW

I’m pleased with this run. 4.8 miles, with some speedwork, and it felt good. Maybe I’m ready to put more speedwork back into this plan; maybe the last two weeks have been good for me and I’m ready to step it up.