If You’re Going to Suffer, Choose the Type of Suffering That Makes You FASTER!

Speedwork. It’s fun, makes the time go by faster, and it’s going to make your race pace faster AND your long runs more enjoyable.

When it comes to running, the hardest battle to win is the one between you and the little voice in your head telling you that you can’t. When that physical fatigue takes over and you are hit with that “holy shit, I can’t do this” feeling. It’s tough. And as humans, it’s in our genetic makeup to naturally avert things that cause us pain or suffering. And with running, sure, you can dial back, but then you feel like a failure. NOT FUN!

I find it much more entertaining to look at my body as a car that has gears. And I enjoy fine-tuning them so that when I run races, or marathons, I know which gear to switch to when I need to. It’s like driving a Ferrari  instead of a Camry.


First and foremost, speed work improves your V02 max, which is your maximal oxygen capacity, or aerobic capacity. The more oxygen your body can transport and utilize the more physically “fit” the individual is. You improve your v02 max by running at 65%-85%of your maximum heart rate.

Speed work recruits different muscle fibers as well. So look at it like  runner’s way of doing resistance training. When you run the same pace all the time, you are using the same muscles, which makes you more prone to injuries caused by over-use.

Speed work also makes for a fantastic metabolic workout. So if you’re into running for the weight loss, this is your jam. Doing intervals, where you run and then have recovery periods, causes your heart rate to go up and down and the more oxygen and blood that is pumped to and from your heart, the more energy is needed, which takes calories to produce.

Not to mention, speed work also improves your overall running economy. Or in other words, your efficiency. So when you do speed work (especially distances under 400 meters) you are recruiting maximum muscle fibers, which sends messages to your brain to go, go, go, so this is going to really improve your neuromuscular capacity as well.


Here are 3 of my favorite, simple speed work workouts:

“Track Cocktail” 

Run 1600 meters (1 mile) – rest 2 minutes

Run 1200 meters (.75)- rest 2 minutes

Run 1000 meters (.62)- rest 2 minutes

Run 800 meters (.50)- rest 2 minutes

Run 800 meters (.50)- rest 2 minutes

Run 400 meters (.25)- rest 1 minute

Run 400 meters (.25)- rest 1 minute

“5-4-3-2-1” (Fartlek workouts) 

-Run 5 minutes at TEMPO speed (a pace that’s faster than race pace, but something you could hold on to for about 30 minutes) – Jog 5 minutes

-Run 4 minutes – Jog 4 minutes

-Run 3 minutes – Jog 3 minutes

-Run 2 minutes – Jog 2 minutes

-Run 1 minute – Jog 1 minute

“400 Meter Repeats”

Run 1 mile warmup

THEN 8 400 meter repeats wit a 60 second break in between

Run 1 mile cool down

Hill Repeats” 

Find a hill that measures about 400 meters (.25 distance)

Run 6 hill repeats, doing a recovery jog down and 10 push-ups at the bottom of the hill.

1 hill repeats/jog down/10 push ups – REPEAT X6