I shamelessly stole this article by Ed Eyestone from Men’s Health.
Speed workouts are valuable in many ways — cleaning up your form, increasing VO2 max, getting really fit with less workout time, raising metabolism long after workout, etc. etc. Try some of these workouts (with modifications). Remember, our running path is marked every half mile. — Vic
As a two-time Olympic marathoner, I can testify: Running can be boring. And frustrating. Especially the way the typical guy does it—the same 4- or 5-mile jog, day after day, week after week, year after year. Then along comes some race for some cure, and ponytailed old dudes and even a few thirtysomething moms pass him.
The problem: Monotonous runs.
The simple fix: Go faster once in a while. In this article, I’ll show you how to mix speed into your workouts, shake the boredom from your usual loop, and build your endurance to an all-time high. You’ll use the same cutting-edge techniques I use to train the Brigham Young cross-country team. (And myself.) Don’t worry, your regular miles aren’t useless. You’re burning calories—and burning off stress—while toughening the connective tissues you’ll need for my plan.
To get started, perform one of these workouts once a week in place of your routine run. Add a second one per week when you’re comfortable. Once you’ve become a speed freak, here’s a great training mix: Do one of the first three workouts early in the week, then choose a second from numbers 4 through 7 later in the week, at the track. Do the last run on the weekend. You’ll feel the difference as you start to pass runners in the 9th K of a 10-K, and you’ll see the results in bright numbers on the finish-line timer.
What: A fuel-injected version of your 4-mile jog, run at a “comfortably hard” pace.
Why: Tempo runs train your body to clear the lactic acid that causes your muscles to “burn,” forcing you to slow down. Everyone has a threshold at which blood lactate dramatically increases. Tempo runs push back your lactate threshold.
How: Estimate your fastest 3-mile time (think back to your best recent 5-K). Calculate the pace per mile and add 30 seconds to it. So if you think the fastest you can run 3 miles is 24 minutes—that’s an 8-minute pace—try for a tempo pace of 8 minutes, 30 seconds per mile for your 4-mile run.
Workout Tip: Be precise. Wear a watch.
What: A series of 1,000-meter runs at your tempo pace, with rest in between.
Why: Short tempo runs help you maintain a strict pace, and the brief recoveries keep you at lactate threshold. Tempo 1,000s are also great if you can’t do lengthy tempo runs.
How: Run at tempo pace for 1,000 meters (that’s about 2.5 times around a track), then rest for 60 seconds before repeating. Start with a total of six 1,000-meter intervals and progress to 10, adding one each time you perform the workout.
Workout Tip: If you’d prefer, measure in time instead of distance. Perform each interval for 3 1/2 minutes before resting.
What: Hard runs with jogging recoveries.
Why: Running at your maximum aerobic capacity is the best way to improve it. The payoff: You’ll be able to run faster with the same effort.
How: Warm up till you’re sweating. Subtract 10 seconds from your mile-repeat pace and maintain that speed for 800 meters (twice around the track). After each 800-meter run, jog once around the track before repeating.
Workout Tip: Start with only four intervals per session and add one each workout until you can comfortably do eight.
What: “Fartlek” is Swedish for “speed play,” meaning you accelerate and slow down according to how you feel. (How European!)
Why: In a step-down fartlek, the intervals are more structured (how American!) and become harder at the end of your run. Working hard when you’re tired will make you faster when you’re fresh.
How: Start at a pace that’s about 75 percent of your full effort and go for 5 minutes. Then slow down to about 40 percent effort for 5 minutes. Continue this fast-then-slow pattern, but shorten the hard-running segment by a minute each time while increasing your speed. By the last 1-minute burst, you should be almost sprinting.
Workout Tip: Each week, add 1 minute to your first segment—but keep doing the same step-down sequence—until your first interval is 10 minutes.
What: Hard 1-mile runs with rest in between. The ultimate training tool for the serious runner.
Why: The length and intensity of mile repeats force you to work at the edge of your aerobic limit, giving you the endurance and mental toughness you need to run hard for long periods of time.
How: Run three or four 1-mile intervals at your 5-K race pace. After each mile, rest for 4 minutes.
Workout Tip: Budget your effort so that you run each quarter mile at the same pace.
What: Really hard runs with jogging recoveries.
Why: You’ll develop the fast-twitch muscles you need to finish strong. Fast-twitch fibers also give you the strength and power to run faster with less effort.
How: Run at your fastest 1-mile pace. (So if your personal record, or PR, for the mile is 7 minutes, you’ll want to perform each 400-meter interval in 105 seconds, or 1:45.) After each 400-meter run, jog for 1 or 2 minutes, then repeat. Start with a six-interval workout and add one each time you go to the track, until you reach 10.
Workout Tip: Do the math before you start. And warm up first!
What: Fast 200-meter runs alternating with not-so-fast 200-meter runs for 2 miles total.
Why: This workout forces you to recover on the go, allowing you to train at higher overall intensity for a longer distance than you otherwise could.
How: At your mile PR pace, run 200 meters, then slow down so it takes you 10 seconds longer to complete the next 200 meters. Continue to alternate between these speeds until you’ve run 2 miles.
Workout Tip: If you slow by more than 2 seconds in either your fast or slow segment, run at a light pace until you finish the entire 2 miles.
Fast-Finish Long Run
What: A long run with a speed surge in the second half.
Why: You’ll train your body to go long and finish strong. And your shorter runs will seem easier.
How: Double your regular easy run. Do the first half at your normal pace, and at the midway point, pick up the pace by 5 to 10 seconds per mile.
Workout Tip: Stash or carry water to help you in that second half.
Read more at Men’s Health: http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/run-faster-today?fullpage=true#ixzz1xSZrlPD3