25 October 2012

6 x 400 : Making a case

I have always avoided speed work like the plague. My relationship with speed work has, historically, been a tense one. Having specific fast times to hit...gah! Stresses me right out.

I had hill repeats on my schedule for FOUR weeks in anticipation of speed work, the idea being to get me psyched and physically ready for it. I'm chagrinned to admit that I never completed a whole one of those hill repeat workouts...not a one. And I actually enjoy running hills.

Yes, I did do a timed mile last week. But that was an act of desperation.

On Tuesday I saw "6 x 400" on my calendar for the first time in a long time. I winced. I hid. I had a migraine. But I've run with a migraine before. Tuesday I didn't want to. So I didn't. I need for running to be fun. It can be hard, hard work, but it must be fun. I have never viewed speed work as fun. I've even (frequently) substituted elliptical for running using a heart rate training model to avoid running speed work.

I'm here to tell you something.

Heart rate training works.

So does the Don't Run, Run Faster plan.

Wednesday night after my kids were in bed, I finally sucked it up and ran some intervals.

And they were kind of fun. And, dare I say, kind of easy.

The random training plan I've been using this fall (cannot for the life of me remember which one it is...and I have no real goal race at the end of it...it's all kind of weird and nebulous-sounding, I know) calculated something from somewhere to suggest that I run these 400's in 1:52. I explained to myself that there was no need to be stressed about hitting a 1:52 for a quarter mile given that I was able to run a 6:47 mile. Luckily, I listened to myself, suited up and headed out.

My one mile warm-up was 10 minutes long. I was worried that I was running too fast for my warm-up, but I checked my heart rate monitor a few times and it had me in the high 120's...nice warm-up place to be. Then I began my first interval. Whoa, Nellie! 6:45 lap pace is a bit speedy, girl...rein it in. I had a heck of a time easing up enough; it felt just way too easy when I backed off. Aren't these supposed to leave you almost breathless but ready to go again after a brief rest?

1:49     (7:16 min/mile)
1:48     (7:11)
1:46     (7:05)
1:49     (7:14)
1:44     (6:55)
1:43     (6:52)

The last two I didn't think about hitting a specific time. Instead, I focused on feeling light and relaxed and fluid. They definitely felt the smoothest and easiest most likely because I wasn't playing the speed-up-slow-down game the whole time!

So I think my training methods are working. And I don't hate speed work anymore. And I won't be avoiding it.

Of course, maybe I'm doing it wrong :P

How do you feel about speed work?
– two thumbs up...now :)

If you have kids, what do you usually do after they go to bed?
– I don't always go run...maybe only once or twice a week. Sometimes I go to the gym and cardio or rock climb. Sometimes I sack out on the sofa and watch a movie. Sometimes I stare at the wall.


  1. 400s are my FAVORITE! Otherwise, speedwork can kiss my ass.

    After my kids go to bed? I'm a super terrible mean mother who sends them to bed at 9, with very little excpetion (not even weekends!), and then I try to stay awake and watch whatever TV I can get through, but my 5:30am wake up call usually prevents too much trash watching. Lame.

  2. I HATE 400s. I like the longer intervals better. But I think we all have the most to gain from the speed work that we hate the most.

  3. Get after it!! Wow! Great workout. And um, I LOVE 400's :) Not too long, but just enough to wipe you out after 6+ of them!

  4. ooh, i think you can go faster if they aren’t hard enough. yep.

  5. I used to hate speed work, but I've come to love it since it's always with a group. Sucking wind with friends makes it way more enjoyable. And it's been nice having an unofficial (and free) coach. Plus, I PR'd my 15k time by over 5 minutes, so I guess when they say you have to run fast to get fast, they're kind of right, Though I'm still miles behind fast, at least I'm a fast tortoise (like one of those cute little box turtles that's surprisingly zippy).

  6. I like speedwork, and after my youngest goes to bed I usually finish whatever I'm working on on the computer or watch something with my husband. We generally eat too late for me to run after they go to bed.

  7. Speedy 400's! I started doing speed work in the spring and ended up injured so now it's pretty much all easy pace for me. Adding slow volume seems to be working for me for now.

    After my kid goes to bed and actually while he is still up, I read blogs, twitter and beginner triathlete or work with some mindless tv show on.

  8. Nice 400s! I agree with Elizabeth above -- you can definitely go faster. Speedwork can be fun, especially when you surprise yourself by going faster than you thought you could... like in this case! I think 400s are easier to swallow since they're so short. 800's are tougher but I think they end up being more useful in real life situations (i.e. races).

  9. Nice 400's lady! After a summer of doing 800's I kinda love the 400's because they are SO much shorter (well, duh... but you know what I mean!)

  10. That's very speedy for someone who doesn't like speed work- great job! I also avoid speed work like crazy as it's... well... work! I am dually impressed that you can go out *after* the kids go to bed- usually at that point in the day, I'm cozying up on the couch with hubby and the remote- LOL!

  11. awesome, awesome, AWESOME!!! :)

  12. Nice work girl! Your plan is working! Those are great times!!

    I like speed work, because it breaks up a run and feel like this is where you really make strides as a runner.

  13. I got to bed before my kids! Good job on the speed work.

  14. NICE!!

    I love speed work. For whatever reason, the faster I run, the less of a toll it seems to take on my body.


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