Speedwork Rules

Remember these 10 tips when you start adding the fast stuff to your running programme


Posted: 1 June 2002

Remember these 10 tips when you start adding the fast stuff to your running programme:

1. Graduate from basic training
If you’re a novice runner, you need at least three to four months of building up before starting speedwork. Meaning? You should be comfortable running steadily for 30 minutes three to four times a week.

2. Scout out the right course
Avoid traffic and other hazards. Also, shun fast downhill running – it looks easy, but it’s actually tough on the muscles and can quickly lead to injuries.

3. Consider the surface
Grass and dirt trails are nice, but a smooth surface is even more important. Tree roots, pavement cracks and potholes can be dangerous. Synthetic tracks – smooth and springy – are often your best bet.

4. Warm up and stretch
Always begin with 10-15 minutes of easy running before picking up the pace. Combine that with stretching for optimum results.

5. Don’t start too fast
Beginners usually err on the speedy side of speedwork. Hold it steady, and don’t run so fast that your breathing and heart rate go crazy.

6. Focus on form
Speedwork improves your system’s biomechanics, so think about form when you run fast. Visualise yourself running lightly, smoothly and efficiently.

7. Find the fun
Faster running is a new kind of effort, but it doesn’t have to be grim. Reduce stress by playing speed games and just simply enjoying the pace.

8. Rest the day after
If you’re used to running the same pace day after day, you’ll need to work at developing true rest days. Slow right down, cut back on distance or skip running altogether on the day after a speed session.

9. Start with five
That’s a good number of repetitions to begin with for most speedwork sessions. And one session a week is wise at first. After your body adjusts, add a second session.

10. Be careful when you race
A little speedwork can instil a false sense of overall fitness. Be cautious about your ability to maintain a fast tempo. Learn to run at a pace that you can hold for the entire race.


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