Wild Workout Wednesdays: Speed Workouts 101

After completing your first few races, you may be looking to break your “personal records” or PR’s as we say in the running world. Welcome to speed work 101. This has recently become a favorite type of training for me, as since it is super hot, long runs are NOT good right now. Speed sessions are typically shorter and recruit your fast twitch muscle fibers to make you a faster and more efficient runner.

When introducing speed work into your training regimen, it’s important to do so safely. Doing too much too soon will result in injury, so adding in your speed work in slow doses is the best way to accomplish your running goals. Here are 4 different types of speed workouts you can use to help improve your race times.


Strides are an easy and effective way to gently up your speed during a workout. After running your regular run during the week, accelerate your pace for 20-30 seconds, gradually speeding up to a tempo or race pace, then gradually slowing down. Repeat four to six times and take breaks in between to catch your breath and slow your heart rate some. These aren’t all out sprints but short bursts of speed that you gradually accelerate to.

What the F is Fartlek?

When I first heard the word “fartlek” I admit I laughed. I’m not mature enough to not find that funny yet. 🙂 Fartlek is actually Swedish for “speed play.” It’s essentially a series of faster pickups with recovery intervals in between. The one I’ve been doing for my training has been 3-2-1 fartlek intervals- run 3 minutes at an easy pace, 2 minutes at a medium pace and then 1 minute at a sprint pace. Then I do 1-2 minutes of recovery jogging in between. Repeat this for 5-6 times. After performing a fartlek workout, allow yourself a few days of recovery runs and rest days between sessions so you don’t overdo it.

This was what I looked like after my fartlek session last week.
This was what I looked like after my fartlek session last week.

Hill Repeats

Hill repeats will help you get stronger and faster and improve your running form all at the same time. Along with fartlek, hill workouts serve as a good transition workout before you begin adding track workouts or tempo runs into your schedule. There are several types of hill workouts, but the ones in my schedule focus on a easy to moderate grade hill (well, maybe that’s because there’s only one hill in my city). I usually run up the hill for one minute, then do a recovery jog down and repeat 6-8 times. Hill running engages everything from lower legs to hamstrings, hip flexors, core and lower back while running. The stronger you can make these muscles the less injury prone you will be.

I don't recommend STARTING out with a 50lb wreck bag- I'm just crazy like that.
I don’t recommend STARTING out with a 50lb wreck bag- I’m just crazy like that.

Track Workouts

Similar to fartlek training short bouts of faster running are interspersed with recovery intervals. Track training will allow you to keep a close eye on your pace and give you an accurate idea of what you’ll be capable of in a race. Track workouts should be introduced into your schedule when you’re better accustomed to speed training, as the intensity of this type of running can cause injuries when done too much too soon. A good goal to aim for is 2-3 miles of intervals (you can use 1 lap around a traditional track which is 1/4 of a mile). Since these types of workouts are very demanding on the body, adding them to your schedule once a week or even every other week is ideal.

Ok so this isn't a "real" track but I didn't take a pic at a real track so this is the best I could do
Ok so this isn’t a “real” track but I didn’t take a pic at a real track so this is the best I could do

That’s my two cents on speedwork. I’ve been doing more speed work this summer and liking it better than long runs because, as many of you know, I live in Florida and it’s ridiculously hot outside. Hopefully this will make me faster- I’m planning on a fall 10k or 5k to test out the results of my speed sessions!

Linking up with Annmarie at Fit Foodie Mama, Angelena Marie from Angelena Marie: Happy, Healthy and Balanced, Sarah at Creating Better Tomorrow and Michelle at Fruition Fitness for Wild Workout Wednesdays!

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Do you do speed work? What kind of workouts do you do?

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7 thoughts on “Wild Workout Wednesdays: Speed Workouts 101”

  1. Good post! Speed work is key for that PR. Hill repeats are definitely hard to achieve here in Florida lol. I guess that’s what bridges are for? Lol. 3-2-1 is a good fartlek, just wait till you get to the 30-20-10, I think I actually like those more. There shorter bursts and make the workout go by super quick!
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    1. I don’t know how you are doing long runs in this heat! Major kudos to you for that!

    1. It really is a good workout! I did 3.1 miles of hill repeats this morning. I’m definitely feeling it now!

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