Speed Work

Tonight was the first 30 minute speed session of my new 10K Training Plan. I’ve been deliberately vague about what these sessions will involve as I’m still experimenting a bit with speed workouts and, with the British weather being typically unpredictable for this time of year, it’s just as well.

Before I headed out this evening, I thought it would be fun to try some short sprints along the seafront but, with 26 km/h winds coming in from the south west, I soon changed my mind.

As with last week, the wind was ok for running in, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to go very fast running against it; and while I could probably pick up a good pace with the wind behind me, it would kind of feel like cheating if the wind was helping me with my sprints. So I opted for a longer continuous run instead.

I’ve been reading up about tempo runs because, even though runners talk about these a lot, there seems to be a bit of ambiguity about what a tempo run actually is. While some define it as a run where the pace increases steadily and peaks in the middle before tapering down to the finish, others describe it as a continuous run at a steady pace. I’m still not sure what the right definition is, but in reading about tempo runs I did come across some interesting ideas that I thought might be worth trying.

One article that I read suggested that a tempo run should be about twenty minutes of running at a pace slower than your current 5K race pace. With the wind blowing strong, I thought this would be a good one to try out while running against the wind.

My average pace for my last few Parkruns has been around 6:20 to 6:30 minutes per kilometre, so I was aiming for between 6:50 and 7:00 for the first half kilometre with the wind behind me and the next two and half kilometres with the wind in my face.

As I expected, running against the wind kept me from going too fast and I managed to keep the pace fairly consistent throughout, albeit with a few spikes here and there when the wind dropped off. And even though I ran negative splits, I didn’t stray too far outside of the range that I was aiming for.

5K Splits-2014-02-25

After the first three kilometres, it was time to turn around and head back to the starting point with the wind behind me, so I decided to use this part of the run to pick things up a bit and see how long I could maintain a faster pace.

Although I am focusing more on my 10K than 5K training, I still have that goal of running a sub-30 5K in the back of my mind. To do this, I need to be able to run faster than 6:00 mins per kilometre so, with a bit of help from the wind, this seemed like a good opportunity to see what that would feel like.

I managed to pick up the pace to around 5:50 and, judging by the graph from my Garmin, this was fairly consistent throughout the fourth kilometre. Even with the wind helping me along though, it was hard going and I couldn’t keep it up for the final stretch. However, I did still manage to stay pretty close to 6:00 for most of that final kilometre.

5K Pace 2014-02-25

I’m not sure how much benefit any of this will have long term, but I am pleased that I managed to keep my pace a bit more constant than usual. And, most importantly, I learned that running in the wind can be a lot of fun if you don’t mind changing your workout plans!

Do you adapt your training when the weather makes things difficult? What’s your favourite bad weather workout? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Speed Work”

  1. Yes! Blog Runner–With the Minnesota winter we’ve been having this year (soon to be announced the coldest since the 1880s with a snow amount a LOT higher than average, too), I’ve headed indoors to run on the track (some call it the hamster track). I have only been able to run outside about 3x since the beginning of January. I’m sorry to say . . . my favorite bad weather workout would NOT include the outdoors, although I have gotten a bit used to running in the elements of snow, ice, cold, wind, rain, heat, humidity, etc., since I first began a couple of years ago. Good luck on your runs!

    1. We haven’t had any snow yet this winter, just wind and rain, but there is a rumour that we might be getting some this weekend. I hope we do, if only because I’ve never run in snow before!
      I don’t think we have a hamster track around here, but it would be good if we did – I’d be much more likely to use that than a treadmill. 🙂

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