Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Let's Talk Speed

It has taken me a long time to realize that speed is mostly mental. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely physical limitations when it comes to running faster, but a lot of the time, it's my mind that holds me back.

I used to warm up at a very slow jog. I thought, "I'm slow, so I have to start out slow." This past year I have come to realize that I don't have to be slow - it's a choice.

In the last 7 months alone I have taken my half marathon time from 2:16:26 to 1:58:05.

I'm not breaking any records, but I don't think I'm slow anymore.

These days my warm up is faster. I have found that I can run comfortably at speeds that used to feel like sprinting. I think part of the reason for this is running with a group. Running with other people definitely makes me run faster than running on my own. But I also started doing speed work for the first time since high school cross country, and I think that has made a big difference.

You can find speed workouts with a quick internet search, but these are a few of my favorites:

Fartleks - A funny word (it means "speed play" in Swedish) that is a good place to start. It's an easy way to add short bursts of speed into your workout. Pick something up ahead, a mailbox or a tree, and run faster until you reach it. Then slow down and pick your next mini-goal line. 

Progression Runs - I especially like doing these on a treadmill. Start out slow and gradually bump up the speed 1/10th of a mile every so often and see how fast you can go. Worst case, back the speed off a bit until you're running comfortably again. I have really surprised myself with how fast I can get going sometimes during progression runs.

Mile (or any distance) Repeats - Run/jog a warm up, then run two or three miles (or other distance) at 5k or 10k pace - it should be a challenge, but you shouldn't feel like you're going to die - with recovery jogs between miles. The breaks make the miles less painful, physically and mentally.

Tempo Runs - Tempo runs help your body get used to running at faster speeds for longer periods of time. Run a warm up, 3-5 miles at a set pace (I love the treadmill for this because I'm terrible at holding a consistent pace on my own, which I need to work on) and a cool down.

I still need to get better about cross training, and stretching, but at least I've made some progress when it comes to pushing myself to run faster. As Tom constantly reminds me, "You're faster than you think you are."

Do you do speed work? Do you feel like your mind slows you down?


  1. My husband always tells me the same thing about being faster than I think. Our minds will shut our bodies down faster than necessary for sure. It's so much about confidence! Congrats to you for getting so much faster! I want to get a sub 2 hour half some day but it's far away for me right now.

    1. It's crazy how much our minds can mess with us! You could totally break 2 hours if you set your mind to it :)

  2. Wow, you are fast! Congrats on shaving that much time from your half marathon time. I often use fartleks but have a terrible time doing temp runs.

    1. Thanks! The treadmill is my best friend when it comes to speedwork - I'm really bad about it on my own.

  3. I've recently decided that I need to incorporate more speedwork. I don't love doing it, but I want to get faster, so I will. I know it's largely mental for me, it's just so easy to always run at the same comfortable place.

    1. I whine every time I have speedwork on the schedule, but I'm always really happy after I'm done! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...