5 Reasons you should do speed work . . .


. . . even if you’re not training for anything

I am not training for a race. In fact, I won’t start seriously training for my summer half until about the end of March. I still include some type of speed work into most of my weeks. I’m going to share why you should, too.

Fairytales and Fitness


For some of us, sometimes speedwork means getting on the treadmill

What is the purpose of speed work?
Of course you never have to do speed work if you don’t want to; it’s a completely personal choice. Here are some of the benefits of including speed work in your running:

  1. It can help you increase how quickly you get oxygen to your oxygen hungry muscles, allowing you to run faster.
  2. It can help your body store more glycogen. Hitting the wall? That’s what happens when we use up our glycogen stores (and is why it’s important to take in fuel on longer runs). It’s a no brainer that being able to store more glycogen could be helpful in holding off fatigue longer (even though at some point you will deplete your stored glycogen).
  3. It’s generally accepted that if you want to run faster, guess what? You need to run faster!
  4. It can help you strengthen the muscles that help you run (glutes and hip flexors)
  5. It helps to prevent burn out. I don’t know about you, but running the same distance at the same pace all the time is really boring to me.

A potential bonus benefit: adding in a little speedwork might help you manage your weight. Your body quickly adapts to anything that you do all the time — and that includes those LSDs (long, slow, distance runs) and those easy 3 or 4 milers. You’ve got to shake things up if you want to maintain or lose some weight.

Sometimes it means getting out there to race as training

How often should you incorporate speed work into your running?
One to two speed sessions a week is plenty (it depends on how many days a week you run). You shouldn’t do two hard runs in a row: if you do speed work on Monday and you run Tuesday, it should be an easy run.

Pay close attention to your body, as always. If you find that you’re not recovering well, or if a niggle — and especially a pain! — shows up, either skip you planned speed work or reschedule to later in the week (if you’re feeling better).

Hill repeats, by the way, are speed work in disguise.

Speed work can be playful
Right about now you’re probably thinking — ugh! I don’t want to have to run hard.  Speed work doesn’t always have to be hard, or even long. Add some strides (short, fast intervals — we’re talking maybe 30 seconds) midway in your run or after you’ve completed your scheduled distance.

Consider a Fartlek run (which actually means speed play). I have several routes that are lined by trees. I love to run hard between two trees, easy between the next two, and so on — I just do it until I don’t feel like doing it anymore.

Whether you want to get faster or not. speed work can help you get out of a running rut and put a little more pep in your step. Give it a try and see how you feel!

Do you ever do speed drills?

Do you preferred structured speed workouts or just inserting a little speed here and there?

What is your favorite type of speed workout?

29 thoughts on “5 Reasons you should do speed work . . .

  1. I need to do more speedwork – I have been neglecting it since I started running again.
    I used to do 4x400m, 3x300m, 2x200m and one 100m on the track. That was fun!
    Here in Cape Town, we can improvise like you describe. Do a speedy run between two lamp posts or something… Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Only when I was in a training group but that was several years ago. And only once a week.

    My speed work used to be running 5ks weekly. That has changed.

    But so have my running goals.

    So though I agree with your reasons, you know that many of us run socially and for enjoyment. Pace or PRs are not our end goal. That’s ok too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Running every run the same pace (or place) is extremely boring to me. That’s why I say it’s a good idea to do whether you’re training for something — or not.

      You’ll notice I made no mention about PRs.


      1. That’s exactly why I mostly run with friends. The chatting makes all the miles interesting. If you run with different people, the pace is always different. And if I don’t have a friend to run with, I vary my location so it’s not boring. I also listen to music or mostly podcasts. I don’t find running the same pace boring at all. But I don’t wear a watch so I don’t know if it is the same pace LOL.

        So I guess we all know, it’s a good idea for some and not for others.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I do speed work but only when I’m training for a race. You have some good arguments for doing it at other times as well. I do fartleks and tempo runs for my speed work. My favorites are the shorter ones like 8 x 200 meters and my least favorites are mile repeats.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always been a huge fan of speedwork. I attribute my early Boston Qualifiers to speedwork and strength training. I think there are mental benefits to speedwork as well. Plus I’ll never be a high mileage runner so there’s that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I rarely do speed work! I often wonder if I’m doing it right. Of course I guess everyone does their speed work differently.I like your method of running from tree to tree. When I was training for my first Disney half marathon I followed one of their training plans and they had “the magic mile”. I don’t think I could do speed work for an entire mile! -M

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have not done any speed work. I run 3 days a week but after reading this I am thinking of adding one a week to break things up. The scale hasn’t been kind the last few weeks. Maybe it would help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Weight is about what we do consistently. And it’s hard in Winter. I do think speed work is a good thing to incorporate, but not as a punishment. Weight is much more about what we eat than how we exercise, unfortunately plus we’re hard wired to crave more fattening foods in Winter.


      1. I do agree but hypothyroidism makes things tough. I am consistent in watching what I eat but sometimes it takes a change somewhere. Many coworkers I have did Keto and lost weight so I followed it for several months and gained. Low fat, good carbs (veggies/fruit/grains) and weight came off! Crazy. Next on my scratch list is sugar.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I tend to do progressive treadmill runs because running the same pace on the mill is REALLY boring to me! I’m just maintaining my base. I have quite a few months before I really need to start training, but it always sneaks up on you, right?

      Liked by 1 person

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