With a bit of work, you can shave some valuable time off your run without making drastic changes to your training program. Here are three great workouts for building killer speed over the Olympic-distance run.
Workout #1: Mile repeats
Frequency: Once per week
The nuts and bolts: 6 x 1 mile or 10 x 1k or 5 x 2kIf you have not done anything like this before you should begin with fewer repeats, such as 4 x 1 mile, and build up to the full volume of this workout. Also, you may consider choosing a different repeat-to-distance format each week to avoid monotony.
Lastly, you don't have to do this on a track. In fact, a park or road with a measured distance would be preferable since, as a triathlete, you won't be racing on a track.
Rest: 1:1. In other words, if it takes you seven minutes to complete your work interval, then jog easily for roughly the same amount of time.
Pace: 10k run pace or slightly faster. Begin conservatively and build into the workout. If your splits are not consistent and you find you slow down throughout the workout you are running too quickly.
Purpose: This type of workout builds aerobic capacity. In other words, this workout will make you more efficient at race pace. Thus, you can either run faster over a given distance or you can run further at a given pace. It's a tough workout and one you will have to do a few times to get your pacing right, but nothing will give you the strength and efficiency to finish strong like this session.
Workout #2: 4 x 4 x 4
Frequency: Once every other week in addition to the mile repeats. Don't do in the same week as hills.
The nuts and bolts: 4 x (4 x 400 followed by 4 x 200)Run four 400s then four 200s; rest 5 minutes and repeat three more times for a grand total of 16 400s and 16 200s -- a total workout distance of six miles. This workout can be mentally demanding. It is a good idea to start with half the workout i.e., 4 x (4 x 400 followed by 4 x 200) and add a set each time you do the workout. If you don't have a track available, don't worry. This workout can be done by time as well. Your 400s will become 2-minute runs and your 200s 1-minute runs. Rest 2 to 3 minutes after the 2-minute runs and 1-2 minutes after the 1-minute runs.
Rest: 1 to 2 minutes' jog after each 400. Jog an easy 200 after each 200. Take 5 minutes very easy between sets.
Pace: Run these faster than 10k pace -- closer to your 5k pace. This will feel slow early in the workout, but it will catch up with you.
Purpose: High-end aerobic training/lactate tolerance. This workout pushes the envelope of the maximum pace you can hold for an all-out 10K. This is a great workout to do with friends; just be sure to stay focused on your pace, not what suits your training buddies. Again, don't let the pace drop throughout this workout. Consistency is the key. That said, don't be afraid to push each other.
Workout #3: Hell's hills
Frequency: Once every other week in addition to the mile repeats but not in the same week as 4 x 4 x 4.
The nuts and bolts: 5 to 10 repetitions of a steep 200-meter hill or a hill that takes 45 to 60 seconds to complete at a fast pace.
Rest: A very easy jog to the bottom of the hill. Aim for almost complete recovery after each work interval.
Pace: All out as fast as you can go -- no excuses. Hammer from the very start and don't slow down.
Purpose: Maximal power, strength, speed and mental toughness. This will also benefit your technique and stride by increasing knee drive and toe-off. This is a very hard effort, and you really have to gut it out. When done properly you will reach your stopping point and bend over panting for air; perhaps if you've done really well you will go to your knees. You'll suck air for a minute or so, feel better, stand up and think, "Okay, only eight more to go." This is an awesome workout.
While it can take months or even years to retune your stroke to squeeze a few extra seconds from your 1,500 time, building speed on the run can be done with a few key, strategically placed workouts that will allow you to get the maximum benefit from the hard work and time you put into the sport. Include the above sessions in your training plan this season and you may run better than ever.