Speed Training For All

What Is Wrong With Normal Speed Training Advice

For most of my running career I’ve heard the same old advice given out by distance runners: if you want to improve your times you need to do more miles.

I have never bothered to argue the point, after all, it’s given me an advantage all this time!

So, what is wrong with the usual speed training advice?  The stuff I am reading now on the internet is still the same sort of thing I was hearing in the 1970’s.  I think it came about because of Emil Zatopek’s training that was often quoted (to me anyway) at that time.

The Trouble With Speed Training Advice…

…is that it isn’t speed training.

At best it’s speed endurance, but mostly it’s a form of interval training.  And interval training is not speed training, although it is one way of improving your fitness and so your speed.

this is not speed training

Think of it like this.  A car with a maximum speed of 140mph is going to travel at 70mph much more easily than a car that can barely do 80mph.

Speed endurance



It’s the same with people.

I don’t know what your targets or abilities are, but lets take 6 minute miles, as I have found this where things start to change.  Once you are hitting 6 minute miles you are doing pretty well.  But a six minute mile is a lot different to a seven minute mile.  From what I’ve seen, a lot of runners will never be able to run that fast because they do not run the right way.

So, if you want to race at 70 mph, it is going to be easier if you can run at 140.  Most speed training trains you to run at 80 at the most.

If you are expecting to knock out 70 mph for an hour, you are going to struggle if your top end is 75.  For one thing, you are going to need to get up to 90+ at times to make up for the slow bits where you are only hitting 55.

So here are a few Speed Training Tips

Anything less than flat out is not speed work, it’s speed endurance, which is also necessary.

You need a full recovery between repetitions, otherwise it is endurance again.

You can not run flat out for very long, so anything above about 50 metres is, well, you guessed it.  Any training programme that tells you to jog between sets usually deteriorates into a interval like session (at best) with slow bits and fast bits.

If you are doing long reps ie anything over 200m, it is interval training.  If you should ever do less than 200, you are in the right area.  The longer your rest interval, the better. (For speed that is).

Do not be scared of not “doing the miles”.  I can assure you that half an hour to forty minutes running flat out over distances of less than 100m, with a long recovery, is just as hard, if not harder, as a run of the same duration.  And, according to the new HIT theories it is probably better for your health.

From experience I can tell you that running 100s, even with a short interval, is both tiring and works wonders for your distance running.

If you want more, you can sign up for my running course at the top of the page.


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