Testing out the “speed demon” interval run

I may be one of the few people who actually enjoys doing speed interval runs- in fact, I think they can be fun. I think they are challenging and I feel like they teach me to push my limits. Also, of course I can see the benefits during my long runs as my times get faster and faster.

However, while I was training for the Hampton Rockfest Half Marathon, I was doing the exact same interval workout and it was getting dull. I was following a training plan and since it was my first half marathon, I made sure not to stray too far from the plan. Now that I’m done with the half, I thought it would be a great opportunity to test out some new interval workouts to mix into my weekly runs.

I knew I wanted to do some speed work today so last night I searched on the Runner’s World website for some new interval plans. I came across an old article about different treadmill workouts and of course the one called “speed demon” caught my eye. This run was based on time instead of distances on the track which was good because the local high school track is closed during the day.

The run basically called for six 3-minute repeats at 20 seconds faster than your latest 5K pace. I would strongly urge anyone who wants to try this to use your most recent 5K pace, not the pace you ran during a PR. I say this because you may have run a fantastic race a year ago and PR’d and you may want to use that pace. But, it’s important to keep in mind the shape you might have been in when you ran that race may not be the same shape you’re in now. You could be in better shape, but you may not be so it’s important to base your speed intervals on your last 5K pace.

That being said, here are the rules of the “speed demon” interval workout.

I thought this was a really great workout and it was nice to switch things up and try a new run. I thought it was challenging but not too hard that I was on the verge of dying. I think when I run it next week, I’ll go a little faster (progression is key!).

Do you have a favorite interval or speed workout? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Please share your favorite speed work run in the comments section below!

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Pick Up Runs: Increase speed over long distances

Throughout my training for the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon in September, I’ve been doing various interval workouts and tempo runs to increase my the speed of my mile times. I’ve written about tempo runs in previous posts and explained some of my interval training but the one speedwork run I didn’t mention was the pick up run.

Admittedly, my training has been calling for me to work in pick-up runs throughout the last seven weeks but instead of doing them I did longer runs or other kinds of speedwork. I didn’t do them because I wasn’t really sure what they were and I was already doing two kinds of speedwork training so I thought, why add another? Turns out, they are the best way to increase speed over longer distances. Last night however I did my first pick-up run on the treadmill and it was pretty hard but it felt great after!

Similar to an interval run, a pick up run helps to increase your body’s tolerance to lactic acid buildup without cooling down completely in between intervals. Through this practice, your body will become better able to run at higher speeds without getting tired. The difference between a pick up run and a regular interval run is the total distance of the run and the amount of time spent at the interval speed.

How do you tackle a pick up run you may ask? Well, to begin, start with an easy warm-up running at a comfortable jog. Once you’re warmed up, pick up your speed to a “controlled sprint.” This is another difference between an interval or tempo run and a pick up run. With a tempo run you want to run the intervals at a “comfortably hard” pace, not a sprint. With a pick up run you want to run at a “controlled sprint” during the intervals. What’s a controlled sprint, you’re now asking? A controlled sprint means you’re running at a very hard pace, an “8” or “9” intensity level, but not dying basically.

After you run the interval for the designated amount of time you want to slow your pace down to a comfortable jog, but do not stop running. With an interval run you can get away with walking in between intervals but with a pick up run you want to keep running. Another great thing about pick up runs is you can take as much time as you need in between intervals. This is important because during each interval you have to stay at the “controlled sprint” pace, so resting in between is crucial.

Here’s are some examples of pick up runs to test out:

  • A 4-mile run with 1 set of 60s, 120s, 120s, 60s, 45s, 30s, 15s sprints. (Translation: A 4-mile run with 1 set of 60 second sprints, then slow to a jog to rest for however long you need, then 1 set of 120 second sprints, then slow to a jog, etc.)
  • 10 sets of 60s sprints with 90s jog in between sets, 2-mile cool down run
  • 1-mile warm-up with 6 sets of 90s sprints and 120s of jogging in between sets, 1-mile cool down

As always, stretch after! If you have any questions or comments, write them in the comment section below!

Interval training with treadmill workouts to switch up your run routine

While running outside is probably the most enjoyable way to run, sometimes the weather or other circumstances force me to head to the gym and do treadmill runs instead. Since I started training for the 5k, many of my runs have been on the treadmill because they mostly consist of interval training. Whether you are training for a race or trying to build your endurance, interval training can be a great way to mix up a boring run routine. Also, by trying out some interval runs, you can be sure to be kept on your toes and challenged as you constantly switch speeds and incline levels. I found some really great interval exercises, on the fit blog, Peanut Butter Fingers, to do on the treadmill to help you mix up your normal run.

30-minute Treadmill Workout:

30-minute Treadmill Interval Workout

45-minute Treadmill Workout

Be sure to check out more interval training on Peanut Butter Fingers!