Saturday, April 16, 2011

Speed work and hills

For the past year, the focus of my runs has been consistency.  I try to settle into a good pace early on and maintain that pace for the duration of the run. My Nike+iPod helps with that since I can look at it to see my pace at any given time.  I aim for around 7:40ish/mile, which is what I’ve done in my last 3 half-marathons. 
 As I may have already mentioned, I don’t train.  If I can get one 4-mile run in the week before a half marathon I’m doing pretty well.  In the summer I usually run once or twice a week.  Of course, I do other exercises – spinning, boot camp, yoga, elliptical, and strength training – 4-5 days per week so that keeps up my strength and endurance but none of those are quite like running. 

This year I really want to make an effort to run more consistently.  I’d like to do two runs per week and this week I tried something a little different.  On Tuesday, I went to the track at a neighborhood park and ran 4 miles at my usual pace.  On Thursday, however, I went to a nearby paved trail*, left my Nike+ in the car, and tried some speed work and hills.  The first quarter/half mile is through the woods and a little hilly.  Here I just ran at what felt like a good warm-up pace.  The next mile is pretty flat and winds through the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus.  I used that part to do some speed drills.  I didn’t time myself but instead picked out landmarks, such as trees or signs, to sprint to.  Then I would recover and choose another landmark.  I tried to vary the distances that I was sprinting and recovering. 

The route is an out-and-back so I continued my sprints until I returned to the wooded part of the trail.  On my way back through the woods, I stopped at two hills.  The first was short and not very steep but it was a hill, nonetheless.  I ran up and down it 5 times before continuing on to the last hill, which is much steeper and longer.  I ran the second one 3 times and then jogged the final part of the trail back to my car.

It felt good to mix things up and have a little variety.  I’ve been reading about the benefits of speed work and hill drills and am going to try to incorporate them into my runs on a weekly basis.  
*The trail is a regular running spot of mine since it's on my way home from work.  Usually I do a 4-mile out-and-back without varying my pace.


  1. it will be interesting to see how it works for you. It sounds like a good mental and physical piece to add.