Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Triathlon Workouts: Running - Speed Intervals

As my training has progressed I have learned that each and every workout needs to be planned in order to maximize the efficiency of the workout.  As my workload increases so does the time commitment and since we only have so many hours in the day/week/month the ability to maximize the positive effects of each workout becomes increasingly important.

With that in mind, I am going to begin a new feature that explains the Triathlon specific workouts I am doing and why I am doing them.  The first installment is going to be on Running Speed Intervals.

What is a Speed Interval?  Here is the description by Matt Fitzgerald:

Speed Intervals are short (30-second to 1-minute) bursts of speed-intensity running (10 RPE) seperated by long active recoveries (4-5 RPE).  They increase stride power and efficiency.  Speed intervals are not full sprints; rather, they should be performed at the fastest pace you can maintain through the end of the last prescribed interval without slowing down.

The reason I decided to start with Speed Intervals is that I did this workout this morning.  The workout required a 10-12 minute warm up run, followed by 6x1min of Speed Intervals with a 3min active recovery period, and then a 10-12 minute cool down.  Sounds pretty simple right? Well it is, except for the actual interval part - this is hard!

I have been doing a Speed Interval workout at least once a week for the last 6 weeks with the interval increasing in time each week.  I try and maintain a 5min/mi pace during the length of the interval and then hold around an 8:45ish pace in the active recovery period.

Speed Intervals have become a key component of my training and I have noticed and increase in both my anaerobic threshold and aerobic conditioning.  Now Speed Intervals have their place in every training plan and, IMO, they are most effective when used after a running base has been established.  This means the most effective time to implement Speed Intervals into your own training would be during the Build and Peak phases of your training plan.

Thanks for Reading,



  1. Love speed work. Not ready for it yet. My legs are trashed and I am afraid of injury.

    When I do speed work I mess my back up and get shin splints or knee pain really bad. Poor form? Possibly... 200+ pound guy sprinting and pounding the joints... more likely haha.

    Good luck man. Watch your times just drop now.

  2. I agree 100% with you, and also should practice this on the swim and bike as well. Alot of people are afraid of speed workouts because of the pure pain of them. Alot of atheltes are real good at going at moderate pace for a long time, but few will venture to the "pain cave" to get faster. You hear too often that to get better at s/b/r you need to s/b/r, but you will hit that wall eventually were you need to push your self past the norm to get better.

  3. Ugh. My least favorite workout but the one with the most gains. Thanks for the post!

  4. Apart from hills, speedwork has the most impact on your running, in my opinion. Sorry I keep mentioning your secret nutrition lab.

  5. Speed work is great! It seems like a short workout compared to some of the endurance varieties and if you prep will with rest, food and hydration, you can make a big difference.

    What do you eat, drink, etc. before these?

  6. For you young bucks
    Us old guys end up in wheelchairs going any level over tortoise pace...

  7. This is helpful

    I really need to get more specific in my Tempo Interval Runs. It sounds like I need shorter intervals and more of them. I need to get that book or a website.

    For the past 4 weeks (since I started my HR training plan) my own prescribed running intervals have been 3 or 4 miles ...going hard every other half mile.


  8. Good info! FYI just checked the count down clock...59 days!!!!!!

  9. this pace sounds similiar to what McMillan call somethign like Stride Outs. I have started doing some at the end of my brick, after a rest.

    I hope it helps my time and I do it at the end of a workout in hopes of trying to build more endurace at the end of a workout.

  10. Intervals hurt but they do make you faster. Balancing duration vs intensity is one of my big challenges.

  11. Love the Matt Fitzgerald book! The workouts sure are tough sometimes but boy do they work.

    I agree about planning workouts. I have to have it down on paper to keep me honest.

  12. Nice post! Speed intervals are never easy…probably why I don’t do them…:) I have lots of respect for anyone that do training like this. Well done!

  13. OMG!! How long has that Jack Handy quote been up there??? LOL. AND the STEER in your header surprised the crap out of me! Love it.

    Oh yeah speedwork. I love to hate it, but there is nothing like it to improve your fitness level in all sports. Intensity is definitely missing from my plan, and I am changing that for IMLP training... I hate it most on the swim (obviously given my latest swim times). BUT I plan on using them a lot in the build/peak leading to IMLP for sure.

  14. I'm getting ready to start doing speed intervals in a few weeks and am both excited and dreading it. Necessary evil with big payoffs that's for sure.

  15. This is a very nice post, so informative and interesting. Thanks for sharing such a great post.