A little over a week ago, I went to a running symposium where I learned lots of cool things that you’ll soon read about in coming blog posts. One of the key things I learned about were two types of workouts to incorporate into your workout plans to help you run faster: Lactate threshold (LT) runs, and interval runs.
Because getting faster is one of my goals for 2012 (specifically, to beat my 2011 half-marathon time this coming May!), you’ll notice that I have speed workouts scheduled on every Monday of the week in my Spring Workout 2012 Training I. I have “tempo” runs to help with my lactate threshold, and 400 meter repeats to help with my speed and running efficiency. I alternate only one of these each week since these are the first speed workouts I will be doing in a long while; but if you are a more advanced runner, you could (and should) do both during the week to further increase your speed and efficiency.
So what are lactate threshold and interval runs? Time for a little science lesson.
A lactate threshold run pushes you to improve your anaerobic capacity. It trains your heart, lungs and blood vessels to carry the maximum amount of oxygen from your blood when you’re strenuously exercising (like running fast uphill, or sprinting), to your muscles. The more oxygen your body can get to your muscles, the faster and more efficiently you can run.
Interval runs, simply put, have you run at an intense pace for short amounts of time, so your body learns what it feels like to run FAST. Your cardiovascular fitness improves during interval training, your body becomes stronger, and you get faster.
Here are some ways to incorporate LT runs:
• Run at a “comfortably hard” pace (about 75% of your max speed) for 1 mile, with 1 minute rest at the end of each mile. Repeat 4-6 times.
• Run at a “comfortably hard” pace (about 75% of your max speed) for 30-40 minutes. During the middle 15 minutes, add in bursts of 200-meter to 800-meter surges at a hard pace, with 1-2 minutes recovery (slower jogging) between each burst.
• Run 800 meter repeats at a hard pace (about 80%) with 1-2 minutes rest after each. Do 4-6 repeats.
Here are some interval workouts to speed you up:
• First, run one mile all-out, as fast as you can. Then divide your time by 4 to get your 400 meter pace. For instance, if I ran an 8-minute mile, I would have a 2-minute 400m pace. Then begin your workout: Start with 400 meter repeats at your pace, and repeat 6 times. So for me, I would run 400 meters at a 2-minute pace, 6 times. I would rest for the same amount of time, 2 minutes, between each interval. Up your intervals by one each week. After several weeks, run one mile all out again and adjust your 400 meter times accordingly as you get faster.
Climb Run the ladder. Find a track and start by running 200 meters at 80% pace. Rest the same amount of time. Run 400 meters. Rest. Run 800 meters. Rest. Run 1200 meters. Rest. Run 1600 meters. Rest. Then work your way back down with 1200 meters, 800 meters, 400 meters, and 200 meters. If you feel like over-achieving, tack on that extra 100 meter sprint at the end—you know you want to.
• Find a nice big hill that is about 200 meters long. Run up it at a hard pace. Jog or walk down. Repeat 8 times. Increase repeats next week. It’s that easy.
Just this morning, I got up before the sun was fully up to get in my interval workout for the week. This was my first interval workout this year. (I’ve been battling an upper respiratory infection, so things got switched up in my schedule.) I have to admit—today’s speed work wasn’t the most fun, especially because I am wheezy already from being sick [cue inhaler noise]. And you thought intervals were tough enough! I warmed up for ¾ mile on my way to my nearby running trail. After a good stretch, I churned out 6×400 meter repeats at a 2-minute pace. I was sweating good on my cool-down jog back home! While I can’t always say speed workouts are “fun,” they sure get the job done, and I felt faster and stronger while sprinting and afterwards (albeit tired and ready for some coffee). I’m sure I will be sore tomorrow, but you’ve got to love that kind of soreness, right? It’s the kind that means you’re getting faster!
What are your LT or interval plans for the week? Do you have other workouts you like to do to increase your speed?