How to ramp up the speed for better fat loss and fitness gains
Speedwork—in all its forms—is key for unlocking your full potential as a runner. Not only that, speedwork will make you fitter, enhance the range of movement in your joints, boost power and drive in your lower body, and it will eventually help you to run harder for longer.
Furthermore, Speedwork is key for weight loss. According to many studies, interval running—a form of speed work— burns up to three times more calories than sticking to a steady and easy pace. Of course, long runs at a low intensity have their benefits, but when it comes to burning the flab, speedwork wins the race.
Warm up and cool down
Whether you’re hitting the gym or doing speedwork on your local track and field, starting the workout with a decent warm-up is crucial. Therefore, make sure to start each session by jogging slowly for at least 8 minutes to boost your blood temperature, increase blood flow to your body and working muscle, and mentally prepare yourself for the fast running ahead.
On the other side, the cool down marks the transition from speedwork land to the real world. To cool down properly, jog down slowly for up to 10 minutes, followed with some gentle stretching.
Types of speedwork
Speedwork sessions are not created equal. They vary in terms of intensity and training goals. Therefore, make sure to pick the right one for you. Here are a few.
This type of speedwork is comprised of two segments: high intensity running intervals, at 5K pace or faster, for 30 seconds more, interspersed with low intensity, or recovery boots of an equal time to the previous rep or shorter—depending on your fitness level and training goals. Aim for at least eight high intensity intervals at 80 percent of your maximum cardio power, followed with the right amount of recovery. And of course, don’t forget the warm-up and the cool down.
Another type of interval running but they take longer—up to 10 minutes—and are run a bit slower than your usual 5K pace. Tempo intervals are also known as threshold runs – They move up the point at which lactic acid builds up in the muscles.
The mother of all speedwork and you should proceed on them with extreme precaution. Find a hill that takes between one minute and three minutes to climb at 80 percent effort, and run up to it. Walk or jog slowly back down to recovery
Recovery is key
Speedwork can take its toll on your body—if you don’t follow the right recovery strategies. Therefore, make sure to get plenty of nutrients – preferably a blend of carbohydrates and protein – after every workout. In addition, make sure to take ample rest days between hard interval workouts—at least 48-hours. During your recovery days, you could opt for a recovery run—a 20-minute run at an easy pace, cross-train or take the whole day off the training wagon.
Use The Cold
Work speed may also boost your risks of injury, therefore to protect yourself, opt for a cold bath for five to ten minutes after a hard workout. Research show that taking a cold ice bath after a tough workout lessens inflammation and speeds up muscular growth and recovery.
Quality over quantity
Your interval running workouts should not account for more than 20 percent of your training volume. Therefore, do not do more than two interval workouts per week. In fact, if you’re a new comer to the sport of running, then you need to ease yourself into it by doing just one workout per week. And as your fitness improves, up the ante by boosting speed, length and number of workouts per week.
Here you have it! Speedwork—whether you choose to opt for the hill, the tempo or the intervals—is key for reaching your next fitness stage. But it’s with implementation that the speedwork rubber meets the fitness gains road. Therefore, make sure to put into practice what you’ve just learned. Start first with intervals and build your speed. After, make sure to vary your running program by doing tempo intervals and hill runs.
David Dack is fitness enthusiast. His website WeightLossTriumph focuses on the joys of eating whole foods and the importance of caring for ourselves in a holistic way – mind, body and soul. David enjoys researching the latest and most effective ways to achieve your fitness goals—all based on solid science, not myths and misinformation.