Distance runners are always on the hunt for effective training strategies that help them improve their running speed and endurance. One of the most effective training strategies for distance runners is incorporating speed workouts into their training plan.
Speed workouts are designed to help distance runners improve their leg turnover and running economy, enabling them to run faster and farther with less energy expenditure. In this article, we will explore the benefits of speed workouts for distance runners and how to incorporate them into your training plan.
Benefits of Speed Workouts:
1. Improves Running Economy: Speed workouts improve a runner’s running economy by making them more efficient in their running movement. Speed workouts aim to increase the amount of time the foot strikes the ground with each stride, which enables a runner to conserve energy while running faster.
2. Increases Leg Turnover: Speed workouts focus on increasing the number of strides a runner can take in a minute, which improves the leg turnover rate. A faster leg turnover rate means a runner’s stride will be shorter and quicker, resulting in better speed and acceleration.
3. Enhances Endurance: Speed workouts are intense and require a lot of energy. By regularly incorporating speed workouts into a training plan, a distance runner can improve their endurance and be ready to tackle longer distances at faster speeds.
4. Burns Calories: Speed workouts are high-intensity workouts that require a lot of energy. As a result, they burn more calories than typical steady-state runs. Therefore, incorporating speed workouts into a training plan can help a runner lose weight or maintain it alongside a healthy diet plan.
How to Incorporate Speed Workouts into a Training Plan:
1. Gradual Progression: It is important to incorporate speed workouts gradually into a training plan. Beginning with shorter intervals at slower speeds and gradually increasing both speed and distance over time.
2. Warm-Up and Cool-Down Periods: It is important to prepare your body for a speed workout and avoid injury with a proper warm-up (about 15-20 minutes of dynamic stretching will suffice) and cool-down periods (consisting of a couple of minutes of a light jog and stretches).
3. Vary the Workouts: Integrate a variety of workouts into your training plan, including hill sprints, interval training, tempo runs, and fartleks. This will keep your workouts fresh, challenging, and drive positive progress.
4. Rest and Recovery: Speed workouts are intense and can be demanding. So, it is important to incorporate rest and recovery periods into your training plan to avoid injury and take stock of progress made over your period of the program.
In conclusion, adding speed workouts to a training plan can help a distance runner improve their leg turnover, running economy, endurance, and caloric burn. However, it’s important for runners to approach and begin these speed workouts gradually and under the guidance of a coach or doctor, being mindful of their progress and any injuries that may occur. With consistency and discipline, incorporating speed workouts into your training plan will help you realize your goal of becoming a faster, more efficient, and stronger runner.