Speed training for a dummy

I know this site is a wealth of excellent advice on the subject, but my brain just goes totally numb at figures,
I have no track within reach, nowhere really flat for weekday runs, no suitable grass ditto.

I would be really grateful for a simple first step in the right direction.

I have a good idea of my 10k and 1/2m
times having recently done one of each (Flat) is it posible to do speedwork to times rather than distances?

When I first started running I came off the treadmill and could do 30 mins at 9 min miles or better, now I can do a flat 1/2 in 2 hours 23, so endurance is better, but speed is slower. I would love to be able to do a quicker 1/2 or less than 1 hr 10k I'm female, and 45 by the way!


  • HappySlug

    Sounds like you are a prime candidate for fartlek training. The word apparently means "speedplay" and is basically the best way of doing speedwork without having to worry about measurements or stopwatches.

    An example would be to warm up for say, 10 minutes, then increase your pace slightly for the distance between 2 lampposts, drop back to your warm up pace for 2 lampposts, increase pace again (either to the same as before, or slightly faster), drop again and so on. The variations are endless (I'm sure many forumites have their own methods) and the short bursts followed by short recoveries is pretty much the same idea as a regular speed session, just not timed or measured.

    You could build a session from the speeds you know you can do - ie warm up, 2 lampposts at 1/2m pace, 2 lampposts jog, 2 lampposts 10k pace, 2 lampposts jog, 2 lampposts at a pace that you could only possibly run 4 lampposts at, 2 jog, 2 at a pace you could only run 2 lampposts at, 2 jog, 2 at 4 lamppost pace, 2 jog, 2 10k pace, 2 jog, 2 1/2m pace, 2 jog, then cool down.

    The recovery at a jog, rather than stopping or walking is very good for giving you confidence in a race. I always go out too fast in the first mile of a race, but knowing that I can recover while still running helps me through miles 2 and 3, by which time I will have settled into a comfortable pace.

    Hope this helps.
  • happyslug

    Of course you can do it based on time rather than distance. Say 1 min (sort of 200m through to 4 min (800m). If you've already got a decent base of steady running it should help a lot. I'd probably suggest longer intervals for the time being, because of the distances you're looking at.

    Just one session a week at first, long rests between intervals and make sure you take a proper rest day afterwards. 4x4mins fast, 4 min recoveries at first, build up to 8x4 mins over a few weeks.

    Hope this helps
  • Hi Slug. As the others say, fartlek is a good start - short bursts of speed followed by jog recoveries. When you feel a bit more confident,you could try longer speed sessions. Start, as Glenn says with equal time of fast and recovery, ie: 4 minutes faster paced, 4 minutes recovery; then over time reduce the recovery time and increase the faster time so that you end up going fast for say 10 minutes (about a mile) with 5 minute recovery. You can do these speed sessions for any length, but try to make sure that your recovery time is at least half the time of your speed time.
  • thanks to you ALL for this, I think I'm the sort of person that if I don't feel I'm doing it properly then I don't do it at all, which I know is silly, i did one speed session in the big garden at the house where I work -was obssessed wwith the thought that the distances where not accurate, but I think from all the above that so long as I go a bit faster for a bit, recover, repeat a few times, and be able to keep going for all the repeats, it doesn't matter if I'm not doing exactly 400m at 5k pace etc?

    many thanks again, best wishes, hs
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