Speed training makes for a welcome break from the “monotony” of the long slow distance training but there is the danger of picking up “speed related injuries”. In order to prevent these, as well as picking up general “overuse” injuries, I have outlined 10 important points to consider when doing speed training.
1. Speed training should be enjoyable
Speed sessions should only be attempted when you are feeling “into it”. Don’t attempt speed training when you are tired or feeling lazy.
2. Build into speed training gradually
At first once a week should suffice, thereafter slowly progress the speed and distances, before moving onto twice weekly sessions.
3. Have a goal in mind
Gear your speed training towards a specific race, and set about it systematically.
4. Speed training should only be done for a limited period
This is usually about 6-8 weeks before a specific race.
5. Use the shorter races as speed training sessions
The 10km and 15km races are ideally laid on for this.
6. Judge your speed against “race pace”
Work out the average speed per kilometre that you would like to achieve and run at a pace faster but related to “race pace.”
7. Vary your sessions
Alternate between long intervals on the track, hill running, short intervals and “fartlek” sessions. Also experiment with different speeds at the 10km and 15km races.
8. Don’t overdo it
When it comes to speed sessions, quality is more important than quantity. Never be completely exhausted at the end of a speed training session.
9. Warm up well before each session
This will reduce the risk of injury caused by placing too much stress on “cold” inflexible muscles.
10. Take time for a cool-down
This will help work the metabolic wastes and excess fluid out of the tired muscles.
Gary is a physiotherapist based in Linksfield West in Johannesburg. He has a special interest in treating sports injuries, running injuries and orthopaedics. He has also assisted a number of top Comrades and Iron Man athletes with treatment. Read more about Gary Sobel here.