Rebel Without A Pause

Is anyone else wondering how it’s possible that we are already approaching March? What happened to the first one-sixth of the year? Have I been hibernating? Have I been travelling at the speed of light? My main running goal for 2014, after all, was to educate myself properly about running speed workouts and to subject myself to them in all their gory glory.


Before I blast my way through the whole year and straight into 2015, I think it’s about time that I pause for a moment and reflect upon what I have learned about speedwork so far:

  1. It’s perfectly doable. I was the first to admit that prior to this year, I was a speedwork Scrooge. I could handle some hill sprints and the odd fartlek run, but anything beyond that I deemed too complicated or painful for a free spirit such as myself. However, I found that even the toughest of intervals are absolutely doable and strangely satisfying and fun to complete. There, I’ve said it.
  2. Planning is paramount. Incorporating speedwork into my training schedule has taught me the importance of monitoring my runs and planning my workouts carefully. I find that the single most important factor to consider is my recovery time. I’m learning how much time I need to recover from the different workouts. I firmly believe that this is highly individual, but for each individual, there’s a pattern. I’m learning that there are some workouts I bounce back from, virtually ready to tackle the next on the following day if needed. Other workouts, on the other hand, leave me in need of extra recovery. By paying attention to this, I can make sure that I plan my training in a way that ensures that I’m physically in the best form to tackle a particular workout, and give myself enough rest to allow my body to adapt to the demands I’m placing upon it when this is needed the most. I’ve actually found that my training has gotten easier as as result of me learning more about my recovery times and planning my training schedules a lot more carefully.
  3. I’m feeling the paces. By running deliberately in different training zones I’m learning a lot more about what the different paces feel like. I play games on my runs now where I guess my pace before I look at my watch, and I’m getting increasingly more accurate with my guestimates. What is more, by running set distances at a target pace, I’m quickly developing a pretty accurate feel for how long I’m likely to be able to maintain a certain pace. Both are, in my opinion, really useful skills, which allow me to run very evenly paced training runs.
  4. Speed + Endurance = Stamina. I’ve always loved endurance runs and clock quite a high weekly running mileage – I just love to run and running a lot feels natural to me. That volume of running has taken me quite far (no pun intended!) and does, to a degree, translate itself into faster speeds in shorter races. However, I am find that the opposite is also true – since adding some serious speedwork to my training, I’ve noticed a big difference in my physical endurance and strength on longer runs. About two weeks ago I finished a 38km long run feeling perfectly strong and bouncy, surprised to note the curious absence of the “tired bum” syndrome I usually experience after a run of this calibre.
  5. I’m feeling it! Last but absolutely not least, I’ve learned that it’s totally worth it. Be warned, for this is the bit where I shamelessly gloat a little (ok, a lot!). This is where I tell you that I “accidentally” ran my all-time 10km PB during a training run two days ago. Yes, really. I got a little carried away (or hungry) during a tempo run and arrived back on my doorstep (to the smell of honey roasted vegetables in my oven) after 45:23 minutes. Yummy! This tells me that I’m either doing something very right with my training, or I’m doing something very wrong with my racing! Either way, I’m a happy bunny!

What do you think? How do you feel about speedwork? Have you noticed any differences as a result – besides running faster? Have I inspired you lace up your trainers and tackle some intervals? (I’m looking at you – you know who you are!)

17 thoughts on “Rebel Without A Pause

  1. Jason says:

    That’s great – speedwork is the best!!

  2. Jim Brennan says:

    The only time I did true speed work, meaning other than fartleks and hills, was when I trained for Boston, but I had a similar experience. The 1600 and 3200 actually became doable, and I never would have believed it if I hadn’t done it. I’m back to fartleks when I’m healthy again, but I’m proud of you, Fullmoonrunner. Keep going!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Jim! I’m so like you, and am happy to do a fartlek run or hill sprints any day (well, most days! 🙂 ) I found that all these technical interval workouts looked really daunting on paper, but I’m discovering that they are totally doable and what is more, I get quite a nice feeling of achievement as and when I complete them. I think differently about the paces now and really do think in different speed zones for different distances. Overall, it’s done wonders for me as a runner. I’ll keep working at it, so that when you come to Scotland for some running, I’ll be able to keep up with you! 😉

  3. Angie says:

    Just wait until you do a real race, you’ll be even faster! I love speed work and can’t wait until I can do those kinds of work-outs again.

    • Oh Angie, I hope you will be out and about again very soon as well. On the plus side, if you have to be injured, at least you did it in winter. Hopefully, you’ll have an awesome spring and summer of running to look forward to. I am contemplating entering a 10km race as well to find out what kind of damage I could do there! Exciting!

  4. theblogrunner says:

    I’m still learning about speed work, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done so far. I definitely need more recovery time after it, but that might be because I’m running for too long on these sessions. Still, it does seem to be making a difference overall with both speed and endurance, so it’s all good. 🙂

    • Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I’m glad you are finding the speedwork helpful and enjoyable, like me. Do you keep a training diary? I find that my pen-and-paper diary is exellent for spotting patters of how well I recover after certain runs, which helps me schedule future runs with more consideration. I don’t avoid those workouts that take a lot out of me, far from it – I just schedule them after an easy run and followed by a rest day, to ensure that I’m fit and happy and bouncy for the next run.

      • theblogrunner says:

        Sounds like a good plan! I don’t keep a training diary – just the blog, my training plan and log my runs with my Garmin. I find the Garmin pretty useful for checking pace and splits, and make notes on the training plan if I feel I have to skip workouts to recover from the last one. That way I can make adjustments for next time.

  5. I am like you, learning about speed work as I go. It’s fun and i like seeing the improvement in my running too. Great job! You are an inspiring writer!!!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I think it’s really important to be open minded about – well, everything! In terms of running, I found that once I really understood the ins and outs of speedwork (exactly how and why we run the different sessions, what they do to the body and how that will improve my running) I was a lot more motivated to do them. I actually really enjoy intervals now, as well as faster speed sessions. You never know until you try!

  6. val says:

    That’s awesome! How would you suggest getting started with speedwork?

    • Thank you! As for getting started with speedwork, it depends a little on how much running you are already doing. In any case, I think it’s important to introduce the speedwork slowly, to avoid injuries. As such, it’s fine to have one speedwork session per week to begin with. In my opinion, the two best sessions for beginners are fartlek runs (playing with speed, altering it on a run in a fun way) and hill sprints. Hills are great – they are tough, but apart from training you to better tackle hills, they also make you faster on the flat. Good luck, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

  7. Trails and Ultras says:

    Oh my- that PB on a training run is frigging awesome! As you know I’m taking a but longer to get into my speedruns…but now I’ve joined the running club its effectively forcing me to do speedwork each time I go. If I get results like you I’ll be so chuffed! I don’t have a garmin or anything like that so I don’t know how fast I run on my own, generally its only race times, and now running at a similar pace to other people, that tell me how fast I am. Of course the main reason I want to get faster is that I think speed = strength = endurance. Hopefully I’m right about this 🙂

    • I have definitely seen a big difference in my physical strength on endurance runs, and I’m better able to maintain a medium fast pace for longer distances. I’m pretty sure you’ll find the same, and it’s so worth it! I’m super proud of you for jumping on the speedwork wagon! 😉

  8. I’ve just started training for my second marathon and I’m incorporating more speedwork into my plan than before. I love the effects of it, but it did feel overwhelmingly complicated at first. I’m hoping that with practice, it will feel more natural!

    • I’m sure it will – that’s how it’s worked for me too. At first I was confused and overwhelmed by the guidelines, then I thought I’d try it and with time, I’m really getting into the swing of things. I should add that I rarely run on the track, so I have scouted suitable quiet roads or paths for my intervals. I usually measure the interval distance first (using my sportswatch GPS) while I warm up, and then I get going properly. It works a treat!

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