Todays topic is about the benefits of speed training. If you are like me, you have a serious love-hate relationship with these workouts. They take less time, you get more water breaks, but they definitely take some serious effort! Whether you training for a 5K, or a marathon, speed training is beneficial for any runner looking to decrease their race times. When you switch up your run from an everyday long distance routine, to multiple 30 second or 5-minute burst of intensity, our bodies experience various beneficial physiological changes.
One of the benefits that occurs during a speed workout, is that you recruit different muscles fibers than you normally would during a long run. Our bodies have two different kinds of muscle fibers, and each plays a different role in our training regimens. When we run, although we are using large muscle groups, there are smaller fibers within these muscles that help us to either run longer distances without fatiguing as quickly, or to engage in all out, explosive movements.
Slow twitch muscle fibers are used when we go on those slower, long runs, which don’t include a lot of explosive movements. Training at a steady pace everyday will tell your body that it needs to strengthen these fibers and recruit more of them as your runs become longer. Fast twitch fibers have more anaerobic capacity meaning they are used more during sprints and short, intense bursts of energy. When you are doing sprints, or fartlek workouts, these fibers are being trained and you are telling your body that you might need these fibers in the future.
The more you train your fast twitch muscle fibers, the more likely your body is to recruit them. So how does this help you decrease race times? Since fast twitch muscle fibers are used for faster speeds, having your body recruit these fibers during your runs, will allow you to run faster, for longer periods of time.
Like any muscle, these fibers need to be trained which is where speed workouts come in. Speed workouts are that fast, explosive burst of energy that will train your body to recruit more of this muscle fiber type. If you have never done a speed workout before, make sure to start slow and work your way up to longer sprints. Start by maybe doing a few 10 second sprints during your long runs and work your way up to 30 seconds. Once you start to feel comfortable with these speeds, find a nearby track and get in some 400 meter- 800 meter repeats.
Also, if you get a chance, check out my website Edifysport.com ! 🙂