Speedwork Works Speedily

I realize I’m not the first to discover this, but speedwork actually makes you run faster.

Yes, yes, stop the presses.

Over the last few weeks my training group has had us running two-minute intervals, then 880s the next week, then one-mile intervals, then 880s again. I hate speedwork because it hurts and makes you feel lousy. But just like taking your foul-tasting medicine, eventually it will make you better. In fact, if your speedwork doesn’t get you to that lung-burning, feel-like-I’m-gonna-die point, you’re wasting your time. Be sensible, but get out of your comfort zone.

It doesn’t matter if you run 12-minute miles or 5-minute miles. It’s the relative increase that matters. Push till it feels really bad, then hold it until you can’t hold it anymore, then hold it for another 10 seconds. Then recover. Going on feel may work better for you than using arbitrary time or distance goals.

It’s like getting into that scalding hot (or icy cold) bath. Dip a toe in. Then a whole foot. Then slowly sink your butt into it. There, that wasn’t so bad.

You’ll see results. After 4 x 880s on Tuesday night I went out on Wednesday morning and ran 4 miles in 31 minutes, which was far faster than I had been running the same distance for weeks. I was thrilled, but I still hate speedwork.