This week is about speed work.   Speed work enables you to go faster than your normal training pace.  It’s the type of training that allows your body to go from it’s current fitness level to the next fitness level. 

Training at faster paces increases your risk of injury so it is not recommended for first time participants but rather walkers/runners who have plateaued.  Speed work should NOT be added to any training program until a solid mileage base is established for a minimum of six weeks.  Summarized below are types of speed workouts and training ideas.

TEMPO: A tempo walk/run is one sustained effort between a warm-up and a cool-down.  It’s important when doing a tempo walk/run to not stop after your warm-up or the up-tempo portion of the workout, it’s one long workout without a break. 

Tempo runs should be done weekly and increase in distance.   Your first tempo training should be about 3 miles in distance.  Warm-up for 1 mile, increase your pace for 1 mile, cool-down for 1 mile.  Each week increase your warm-up and cool-down by 1 minute and your up-tempo part by ½ mile.  

You should fully expect your first tempo training to feel like a disaster.  You’ll either go out to fast and not be able to finish the distance or not fast enough and never really reach that threshold pace you were shooting for. Keep working at it and keep making your goal a consistent pace during the up-tempo part of your training.


FARTLEK:  Another type of speedwork is known as “fartlek”.  It’s a funny word and is actually Swedish for “speed play”.  Fartleks are done at the same pace as tempo trainings but instead of a consistent pace they are a workout with many short increases in speed followed by many short recoveries.  So very simply, you play with your speed during your training.   The warm-up and cool-down should look the same as the tempo training such that it’s 1-mile long with a minute added each week.    The middle part of the workout is where the play comes in.  Below are examples of how to vary the speed using your environment.  

When walking/running on the road, use telephone poles for a pole-to-pole workout.  Increase your speed from one telephone pole to two ahead, decrease it from that 3rd pole to the 4th.   This application makes your recovery time half of your work time.

When using the track, play curves and straights: Hit your up-tempo pace on the straights, recover on the curves. 

When using a watch, try 2-1-1-30.  Increase your speed to your up-tempo pace for 2 minutes, then recover for 1 minute.  Increase your up-temp pace for 1 minute, then recover for 30 seconds.  Each time you do this workout add another set of 2-1-1-30 until you are covering your desired distance.


INTERVALS:  The final type of speedwork that is important to consider is intervals.  Intervals are faster than tempo and fartlek paces and include walking or very slowing jogging between intervals.  

Mile Repeats:  If you don’t have access to a track mark out a 1-mile segment on a road and try to note each ¼ mile. You will use the ¼ mile marks to ensure that you are on pace throughout the mile.  For example if you are running an 8-minute mile, you would run a ¼ mile mark every 2 minutes. Your recovery time should be about half the time of your interval so someone running an 8-minute mile would recover for 4 minutes. 

5s-5s-5s:  This is another fun one on a track.  It’s running hard for 5 minutes, recovering for 2.5 minutes and repeating that 3 times.  During each 5 minute on segment you should try to run further than you did during the previous interval.   Your eventual goal should be to do the 5/5/5 segment twice with a solid 10-minute easy walk/jog in between the sets.