Skip to main content
« Do you have the perfect running form? How to get a Personal Best at Parkrun »

I feel the need, the need for speed

Categories: Exercise

Yes the title comes from one of my all time favourite movies Top Gun, but speed is also important for runners too. 

Once you’re able to run a set distance, most people’s next goal is to run it faster.

It’s simple really, you want a personal best or an elite athlete wants to set a world record.  But here are some things to think about before you start adding in speed work into your training.

Adding speed into your usually training regime means that your body is challenged to work harder, as you adapt to these additional demands you get fitter.

To understand speed, first think about the energy systems our body uses.

When your running at a slow steady pace your body uses oxygen in the muscles, carbohydrates and fats (aerobic). As the intensity increases the body can longer use the oxygen in the muscles and relies on glucose as fuel.

During a speed session it is important to put time recovery elements, to enable your body to break down the waste products of lactic acid.

Bear in mind It’s not a good idea to have a big meal before training, as the blood is diverted away from your digestive system to your muscles, this is why you might get a stich or feel crampy.

A speed session is going to be tough, there is no point in running a sub maximal effort in one of these or you just won’t feel the benefit of doing them. Mentally you’re going to have to overcome your bodies desire to stop when it gets painful.

Don’t make any silly decisions; you may start to feel light headed as your brain is dealing with the lack of oxygen when you switch energy systems. Your brain needs both oxygen and glucose to function, but as glucose supplies are depleted that is when the dizziness can come on.

When you doing a speed session correctly you’re pushing your heart rate as high as possible. But be sensible, you will need to have a good base level of fitness before you push yourself to go and do a speed session. Not only plan in well-timed recovery into your session, but also make sure the follow days exercise is at a steadier pace.

Where is your favourite place to do a speed session, do you prefer going to a track, doing a HIIT session in the gym or changing your pace on the street between lamp posts.