Speedwork Made Fun!
One of my favorite workouts I look forward to each week is a great speed workout. So many struggle with these. I hear comments that they are too hard, boring, or they can’t keep pace the entire time, and on and on. The solutions can actually be so simple. My first recommendation to solve the problem is to either meet up with a running group on their speed workout days or to find some friends with similar abilities. This will help two things. Motivation and pacing.
Especially when the weather is different than you think you would like it to be, or you went to bed too late, or whatever an excuse to miss a speed workout may be, the possibility of a missed workout is very much reduced if you know someone is there expecting you. Having another person there makes the time go by much faster and the quality of the workout improves as you are likely to give it your best effort.
One of the things I notice when I am at my workout with a group is pacing. I often will start out being one of the mid pack females, but as either the intensity increases or people tire out as a workout progresses, I often find myself being one of the only, if not the only, female left at the front. This is interesting as I am not necessarily the fastest girl there on any given day. The key is pacing. It is important to have a goal pace you know you are capable of keeping for the entire set. You can always quicken the pace next workout if you finish feeling like you could have done a lot more.
I envision in my mind the pace I want to keep, for example an 800 meter repeat interval. When I take a moment to set in my body what the time will be, I can spend my actual running time focusing on breath and form and not worrying if I am going to fast or slow. My body seems to know. When I do this, I literally cross the end line on the exact second I asked my body to run the interval! Then I am ready for my short recovery before visualizing the next one. Wow! It is so cool. It is a huge part of learning to connect the mind with the body. I encourage all to give it a try. It works not only with running, but swimming, and biking and anything else you can think of. It make take a bit to understand it within you, but it is worth it!
With motivation and pacing solutions, any speed work day can go from being a frustrating experience to one of the favorite workouts you do. Getting proper speed work integrated into your training will also have a positive result on your race day performance as your body adapts to faster and faster times!