Speed Workouts

Hey guys,

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.

Have fun!

Also, if you get a chance, check out my website  Edifysport.com ! 🙂

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The General Principles of Training

     Whether you are training for the boston marathon or your home towns 5k, there are general principles of training that apply to everyone. These principles should be taken into consideration when you are planning your training regimen to keep healthy both mentally and physically.

The first one is the “Principle of Individuality”. Have you ever had a training partner where you guys are running the same speed, the same days, but that person is always just a little bit faster than you? Well this is common, and the principle of individuality states that not all athletes are created equally or with the same ability to adapt to exercise training. This means that although you and your training buddy might be running together everyday, your body will take a little longer to adapt than theirs will. THIS IS OKAY! What this means is that if you want to get on the same page as your training buddy, you may have to run an extra 15 minutes a couple days a week or incorporate some speed training into your workouts. Heredity plays a major role in determining the bodies response to exercise and you might have different cellular growth rate, metabolism, respiratory regulation, endocrine regulation than your training partner. For this reason, any training program you are on must take your needs into account, don’t spend your time comparing yourself to others because we are all different.

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The second principle, is the “principle of Reversebility”. Endurance training improves the ability to perform exercise at higher intensities, for longer periods of time. As most of us know, taking too much time off from your training will slowly reverse the gains you have made. It is basically the “use it or lose it principle”. Once you have made gains, it is important to maintain them.This does not mean that if you are not running 5 days a week you are going to lose your gains. This means that you should get out there at least two to three times a week and go at a pace that you are comfortable with. If you find yourself taking a lot of time off (which all of us have at some point or another), make sure you start back slow to prevent injury. If you have been training for months or years and you find yourself taking a weeklong vacation where you are unable to train, DONT WORRY! You will be fine, you will not lose all the endurance and speed you have worked so hard for. Just make sure you keep that first week back easy, don’t over do it.

The third principle is the one of “progressive overload”. To gain strength, one must overload the muscles, which means that they must be loaded beyond what is normal. Normal for some of us is turning that speed walk into a jog for a couple minutes, and for some its running 30 miles a week instead of 25. No matter what your skill level, it is important to recognize that in order to improve you must push yourself. When I am trying to gain speed, I train at the same pace that I normally would except every 5 minutes I pick up my pace for a 15 second sprint. For example if I am doing a 50 minute run, I would do about 8-10 sprints depending on how I am feeling that day. This is a small, yet effective way to increase your speed and your resistance as you increase your training. As you become stronger and gain endurance, you need greater resistance to continue the increase in muscle endurance.This means that maybe those 15 second sprints turn into 20, or 30 second.

The last principle I want to touch on is the Hard/Easy principle. Often when we think of people who are really skilled, we assume that they must train at high intensities or for long durations, all the time. While at one point in time this may have been the case, we now know that rest and recovery are just as important os pushing your body. Hard workouts break the body down and create micro tears in the muscles. All athletes need at least a day or two to recover to achieve maximal training adaptations and to prevent injury and burn out. For some people a rest day might be walking or doing a slow jog/run, and for others it might be a spa day or a relaxing day on the beach.

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Hopefully no matter what your training regimen is, these basic principles can be applied and utilized. While they might seem basic, I am often surprised at how many coaches forget to incorporate some of these principles, such as rest, into their athletes training schedules. Knowing yourself and how your body reacts to exercise is important no matter what the activity and will help prevent injury. Always listen to your body and do not be afraid to rest!

So with all of this in mind, get out there and enjoy your run!!