by Ashlee Barrow
Speed work is a key part of a well rounded running program. What is it you ask? It is not just sprints or track workouts. Speed work can be a variety of specific workouts that improve the metabolic systems of the body. Let’s take a look at a few benefits:
Who doesn’t want to be faster? Regardless of the distance, many runners have a goal time in mind. Speed work allows athletes to activate slow twitch muscles along with intermediate muscle fibers which leads to an increase in aerobic capacity.
Prevent Injuries and Become a Stronger Runner
Speed work helps strengthen running muscles while increasing stride power. Neglecting fast pace work due to increasing mileage, the body will lose muscle which may lead to injury. Speed workouts also strengthen the heart muscles and blood vessels which in turn provide more energy allowing you to increase distance.
Hill sprints are a great way to push and prepare the body. When running uphill, the body recruits a large number of muscle fibers to beat gravity and get you to the top. It is beneficial to train these muscles throughout your regimen prior to race day so these fibers are more readily available for that final push of the race.
One Slow long distance session followed by the next will help an athlete improve; but limits potential. Speed work not only adds variety, but helps athletes check in with their bodies. Posture, form, and stride are all focal points during speed work. Body awareness and mental toughness will help make race day more enjoyable.