Millions of American’s enjoy running and a vast majority of them stick to LSD (Long Steady Distance) and very rarely add other types of running into their routines. One type of running all runners should include is speed work, interval training or track work. All these terms mean the same thing: Running faster than normal speed. Here are some reasons why you should add it to your routine too.
- The only way you can get faster, is to practice running faster. Even if you do not want to get faster, your speed work training is going to help your other runs become easier and more comfortable.
- Speed work builds strength in the lower body. Fast twitch muscle fibers work harder in these types of workouts while slow twitch fibers work more during the longer, less intense runs.
- Prevents injury. High intensity, speed work, changes the way your muscles work. So, while it’s still running, its running differently, which helps prevent overuse injuries that occur when people only go out to run, without varying speed, cadence, or numerous other factors. Also, with faster running, you naturally increase your stride and therefore engage your glutes, hip flexors and extensors more which increases your range of motion which has its own significant benefits.
- Increases your cadence. Higher cadence makes you a more efficient runner. Practicing shorter distance runs at a faster speed with a higher cadence makes longer runs with a higher cadence easier.
- Forces mental focus. An effective speed workout establishes goals to hit for different splits. In order to do this, you need to have clear and intense focus on the moment. Speed work (done properly) makes you mentally focus on what you are doing and forces you to eliminate all other distractions. This helps keep you focused on longer runs and on race day!
- Increases your VO2 MAX and cardiovascular efficiency. Your heart becomes more and more efficient at higher intensities. This means you can deliver oxygenated blood to the muscles faster which helps to flush out the lactic acid (burning) in your legs allowing you run longer distances at a faster pace.
- Forces you to learn how to use your equipment (specifically your watch). You have to learn how to set up your GPS, use your lap button, and if you have it monitor and track your heart rate. You might even find other cool features on your specific watch!
- Shows improvement over time. Doing the same type of workout, with a watch, produces stats that you can compare and contrast with different times of the year and different years.
- Predictability – using data like this, you can better predict your results on race day. Or what times/intervals you need for other track workouts. You can also see, statistically, where you are in your fitness levels.
- Burns calories longer. The higher the intensity of your speed work (1/4’s versus mile repeats) means your engine will burn a larger number of calories in a shorter amount of time but will also burn more though out the day as you recover.
- Makes race day much easier! If your workouts are super intense, then race day will be much easier and even enjoyable!
There are many different types of speed/track/intervals to incorporate into your routine. Ask our CEO, Tom Kalka (Tom@SargeFitness.com) for some ideas!