Benefits of Speedwork

The Many Benefits of Speedwork – A Little Speed Goes a Long Way!

Most runners only think about speed workouts when they’re trying to beat their last race PR. Without a doubt, one of the benefits of speedwork is certainly faster running times. But you might be surprised to learn speed training offers many advantages to runners beyond this. In addition, there are a variety of different types of speed workouts you can perform. Not only does the variety make speed training more fun, but it also makes it easy to do anywhere. For these reasons, all runners should consider including this type of training in their regular routines.

What Exactly Is a Speed Workout?

In terms of a basic definition, speed workouts tend to represent structured training sessions where you’re running faster than a conversational pace. But within this definition, several different types of speed training exist. While most runners only think about intervals and Fartlek training, there are other options. Here are the 4 most common types of speed workouts.

  • Intervals – These usually consist of bursts of speed for 100 to 800 meters followed by a brief recovery period. Usually sessions of 4 to 8 intervals are performed.
  • Fartlek Training – These are like intervals but less rigid and more fun. Fartlek training involves bursts of speed from one landmark to the next during your run (like a light pole). You then continue your normal run pace until the next landmark.
  • Tempo Runs – Think of tempo runs as a sustained speed training workout. This represents a high-effort pace that is sustained for 20 minutes or more. These speed sessions place you at your anaerobic threshold, which is usually around 90% of your max heart rate.
  • Negative Splits – Speed workouts focusing on negative splits strives to run each “split” faster than the last. For example, in a 5-mile run, you reduce your mile time progressively.

The Benefits of Speedwork

Naturally, one of the key benefits of speedwork is its ability to make you a faster runner. If you want to run faster, speed workouts are essential. But at the same time, there are a number of other benefits of speedwork. Here are some of the most well recognized advantages for runners.

  • Increased Muscle Mass – Speed workouts increase the number of fast-twitch muscles fibers that help with speed. But they also reduce the natural decline of all muscle fibers with aging.
  • Increased Stride Length and Power – When you run faster, you change your stride while also engaging new muscles. This results in a longer stride that’s more powerful.
  • Accelerated Fat Burning – Compared to normally-paced runs, speed workouts burn twice as much fat afterwards. As a result, one of the benefits of speedwork is a faster metabolism.
  • Improved Running Efficiency – Among the benefits of speedwork, improved aerobic capacity is an important one. This means your body becomes more efficient in using oxygen. This naturally enhances your running performance.
  • Reduced Risk of Injury – Initially, speed workouts will result in muscle soreness. Thus, it’s important warmup beforehand and stretch afterwards. But over the long run, one of the benefits of speedwork is a lower risk of injuries.

Making Speed Workouts Part of Your Routine

One of the nice things about speed workouts is that you can include them in your normal routine. Fartlek training sessions, tempo runs, and negative splits can be part of your normal runs. Likewise, intervals may be performed on a track or on a treadmill. By including a couple of these speed sessions in your weekly routine, you’ll soon realize the benefits of speedwork. Not only will this improve your running but your overall health as well.

Dawna is a mom of two, author of ten books and founder of Women's Running magazine and the Virtual Women's Half Marathon series. She is also a certified health coach and motivational speaker. Dawna has appeared on the Today show, MSNBC and morning news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Dawna has launched and sold two wellness companies and loves combining her passion for health and wellness with her love of running. Learn more about Dawna Stone.

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