10 Tips to Maximize Your Speed Workouts

Form is an important part of your speed work training.

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Remember these 10 tips when you start adding the fast stuff to your running program:

1. Graduate from basic training. If you're a beginning runner, you need at least three to four months of building up before starting speedwork. Meaning? You should be comfortable running steadily for 30 minutes three to four times a week.

2. Scout out the right course. Avoid traffic and other hazards. Also shun fast downhill running. It looks easy, but it's actually tough on the muscles and can lead to injuries in a hurry.

3. Consider the surface. Grass and dirt trails are nice, but a smooth surface is even more important. Tree roots, sidewalk cracks and potholes can be dangerous. Rubberized tracks smooth and springy are often your best bet.

4. Warm up and stretch. Always begin with 10 to 15 minutes of easy running before picking up the pace. Combine that with stretching for optimum results.

5. Don't start too fast. Beginners usually err on the speedy side of speedwork. Hold it steady, and don't run so fast that your breathing and heart rate go crazy.

6. Focus on form. Speedwork improves your system's bio-mechanics, so think about form when you run fast. Visualize yourself running lightly, smoothly, efficiently.

7. Find the fun. Faster running is a new kind of effort, but it doesn't have to be grim. Reduce stress by playing speed games and just plain enjoying the zestier pace.

8. Rest the day after. If you're used to running the same pace day after day, you'll need to work at developing true rest days. Slow way down, cut back on distance or skip running altogether on the day after a speed session.

9. Start with five. That's a good number of repeats to begin with for most speedwork sessions. And one session a week is wise at first. After your body adjusts, add a second session.

10. Be careful when you race. A little speedwork can instill a false sense of overall fitness. Be cautious about your ability to maintain a fast tempo. Learn to run at a pace you can hold the whole way.

 

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