I’m going out on a limb here. But I think that just about every runner – regardless of ability, distance preference, age, etc. – wants to be faster.
Short distance runners? Obviously.
Professional and elite runners? Of course.
Racing enthusiasts? Yep.
But what about us Average-to-Slower-than-Average, Middle-to-Back-of-the-Pack, It’s-an-Honor-Just-to-Be-Nominated runners?
Whether your goal is qualifying for Boston or (like me) finishing a marathon in under 5 hours, we all feel the need for speed.
I’ve always wanted to be faster, but I didn’t really think it was possible. I’ve finished all 5 half marathons in about 2:30 (PR = 2:27:42) and both of my marathons in about 5:30 (PR = 5:30:10). So I guess in my mind, that was about the best I could do.
Of course, I never really tried to be faster, either. It’s not like I ran slowly on purpose, but my focus during my first two marathon training seasons was on distance and endurance. I didn’t train for speed at all, really. I just kind of hoped that the adrenaline on race day would make me a little faster.
Nice try, right? Adrenaline is great and all, but it’s only going to take me so far. It finally started to hit me that if I want to get faster, I’m going to have to work for it (duh). This was reinforced by my friend and Galloway group leader, Marcia. She spent last summer busting her butt in a speed training program – and her work paid off with a huge PR during this year’s 26.2 with Donna. I saw firsthand (or secondhand?) that speedwork works.
And then just a few weeks ago, I ran my Magic Mile in 8:03. And I realized that maybe I really can be faster too.
So what next? There are a couple of speed training programs around town, including a Galloway program, but I can’t seem to find anything that will work with my schedule. The sessions all seem to be early in the morning (before the kids have left for school), in the evenings (too close to dinnertime and bedtime), or on Saturday mornings (when I run with my marathon training group).
So it looks like I’ll be on my own for speedwork. Not ideal, but not a problem – except that most of the info that I’ve found online is for road running. And here’s the thing. We’re going to have summer temperatures (80’s and up) here until at least September, and I’m only going to be free to run from about 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. And maybe I’m a big old weanie, but it’s just going to be too hot for me. The sun will be out, and the humidity will be thick. Yes, I need to do some running in this weather to get acclimated to the current climate, but for speedwork? I’m not sure it’ll work for me.
So that brings me to today…and to the conclusion that I’m probably going to end up doing most of my speed training on the treadmill.
I’d really love your advice on this:
- Do you do speedwork on the treadmill?
- If yes, how? Be specific! I honestly have no idea where to begin.
- Do you have a non-treadmill speed workout that I can adapt for the treadmill? Tell me more!
Thanks in advance, my lovely friends. I can’t wait to hear what you have to share.
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Last updated: March 18, 2023 at 7:15 am
jill conyers says
Speed work is my favorite type of training run! It makes me feel like a badass haha!
I will only do speedwork on a treadmill if I HAVE to. Give me a high school track and I’m a happy runner 🙂
You know the crazy thing? I live right next door to a high school and it never occurred to me to see if I could use their track. 🙂 I’m glad you mentioned that!
Just finished a great speed workout on the treadmill! It’s actually not so bad. I’m following Hal Higdon’s intermediate half marathon training schedule and today’s workout was 7x400s at a 5K pace. First I did a short warm up and then did my 400’s at a fast pace with a short .1 mile jog in between. So after every .25 I would do a jog at a nice slow pace, then back up to 5k pace after .1 mile. You can change it up as you want. I really like doing it on the treadmill because it keeps you at a consistent speed and if you feel like it’s not fast enough you can increase the speed, or if it’s too fast, decrease the speed. Good luck!
Oooh, wow, I just checked out Hal Higdon’s site. I’ve never been on it before – there’s some really great stuff there! I’m heading back there right now to do some reading. Thanks for the tip. 🙂
Mar on the Run! says
I do speed work on the treadmill all the time. Quite frankly I prefer it as I don’t always have access to a track. I have varying speed work plans I use. Find a treadmill that has a track screen so you can keep track of your laps. 2-3 sets of a prescribed workout are enough with a warm up and cool down.
Oh, that’s interesting! I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a track screen. I’ll have to check that out next time I’m at the gym. Thanks for the tip! 🙂
I just detest the treadmill! Running in Florida in the summer, I really need to get over it and embrace the dread-mill though! I bet it would work great for speedwork just because you can control your pace so much better on a treadmill. Thanks for linking up with us today!
I love Tuesdays on the Run and was glad I remembered this week! 🙂 I really need to get over myself and run outdoors when I can, but I just hate the heat. I’m delicate, haha.
Neatly-Packaged (@Neatly_Packaged) says
I love your little one screaming for you to run faster lol I really enjoy running on a treadmill but I don’t really have a technique. I just run a mile, stop, stretch, do lunges, then run another mile, etc.
That pic was from my first marathon. The kids were 4 & 7 at the time, and it was freezing – so you can imagine how happy they were! They asked me why I came in last place. 🙁 But at least they like playing with my medals, haha.
I’ve done a lot of speedwork on the treadmill. For one thing, a speedy treadmill workout gets me off of it sooner – which can be a good thing. (It’s also good for keeping things interesting.)
Some of my favorites are 1) progressive runs – start out at a lower speed and then increase the setting at regular intervals – like every 0.25 or 0.5 miles. 2) Interval runs – crank up the speed for a half mile – then slow it down for a quarter or half mile to recover – then repeat 3) tempo runs – after a slow warmup, turn up the speed and hold it for 2 to 3 miles
You’ll have to play around a bit to determine what your target speeds are, or what you can handle. It’s important to understand that while these workouts will help you get faster – the actual “speeds” that you can achieve on the treadmill will not necessarily correspond to the same “speeds” out on the road – just keep that in mind
Thanks, Calvin! Very helpful stuff. And I really like all 3. I don’t really know much about tempo runs. I’ve done some googling, and I tried it once based on what I read – but I have no idea if I did it “right.” I like the idea of being able to maintain a faster speed for a longer distance. I find that since I’m accustomed to run-walking, it’s harder for me to just run – even though I know that I’m physically capable of it. I wonder if it’s more of a mental thing – like I’m waiting for the walk break to come, and when it doesn’t I get tired or discouraged.
Anyway, thanks for your input and for reading! p.s. I still want to do this —> http://humpdayfitness.weebly.com/about.html, but I might have to wait until the kids are back in school next week.
Running Hutch says
I believe The MFDre and Running Rachel have both posted treadmill speedwork workouts on their blogs? I can’t be 100%. When I’m doing interval sprints I will do X speed for X time.
So let’s say I’m warmed up and ready to go, I’ll pick a moderately challenging speed (let’s say 7) and from the moment I select the speed I watch the timer for 30 seconds or 1 minute. I will run the 7 speed until the time is up and then go back down to a 5 for 30 seconds. Then I’ll up the speed to a 7.5 and hold that pace for a certain amount of time. Then back to a 5 for 30 seconds. Then up to an 8.
So you could do the above like a ladder workout. Go up in speed for each sprint interval and then back down in increments. Or you could find a challenging pace you want to hold for 2 minutes each time you sprint and you do 4 or 6 repeats of that. Like on a track.
Alternatively you could run a certain pace for a certain distance instead of a certain time. Maybe you increase your pace for .25 miles and then decrease it for a rest interval.
Okay, cool – I’ll go check out both blogs. Thank you so much!!! I’ve experimented with both of the methods you described, but I haven’t done either consistently. I guess that’s probably the main thing – doing SOMETHING, regardless of the specifics of the workout.
p.s. I wish a 7 was moderately challenging for me! 🙂 And 7.5 is hauling some serious booty for me. Not that I’m comparing, haha. Just saying. 🙂
Running Hutch says
Well to be honest I don’t really know what the numbers mean because I don’t use the treadmill THAT much. lol. I thought a 4 sounded too low and a 10 sounded too high. ha. 😉
LOL! A 6 is a 10:00 mile, just for reference. 🙂 That’s the pace I start with, although I’m admittedly not a fast runner. Ha.
Running Hutch says
Gotcha! Well that’s about what I do normally!
Rachel @RunningRachel says
Yes. I have done speedwork on the treadmill. It was at times easier… because it forced me to run at a steady pace. yet i was HARDER because I was running in place. 🙂
Ha, yep! Totally agree with both. I really love being able to see my pace right on the screen in front of me. But my speed on the treadmill doesn’t always match my ability on the road, so who knows.
Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner says
I haven’t really done much speedwork myself. In the past when I have tried it, I seem to injure myself. I am sure I would be much faster if I took the time to do a set speed work plan
Yeah, I’m with you on that. I’m always very nervous about the potential for injury. And for some reason when I’m by myself, it seems to be a little harder to tell if I’m pushing myself beyond a safe point. And on the opposite side of the spectrum, it also seems to be harder to keep going when I want to give up (or when my bandwidth runs out, haha).
Albert Ugelow says
You know how I feel about running on a treadmill. However, I think that any road or track speed workout can be done on a treadmill. It does take some discipline and focus. I think solo treadmill speed work is more difficult than solo distance runs on the treadmill. There are speed workouts and endurance speed workouts. To some extent it is a matter of how hard you want to work (meaning how much you want to suffer) during the workout. You might want to ask Marcia about some of her speed workouts. We can adopt them to the treadmill. Or, if you dare, I can give you some of my old high school and college workouts.
Albert Ugelow says
As the comments below indicate, using the treadmill for a speed workout means having to constantly adjust the treadmill speed as you change your running pace. You also have to pay close attention to the timer. My non-scientific observation is that a treadmill has a lot more bounce than the road and that can led to various types of leg injuries. Proper warm-up and stretching are essential for a speed workout, whether on the treadmill or on the road.
Yes, I’d like to sit down with you at some point and see if I can come up with a workable plan. Adjusting the treadmill is a pain, but I’m not unaccustomed to it – I have to do a good bit of adjusting when I do my run-walk intervals. Some treadmills and some intervals are pre-set, but some (like 3:1, for example) I have to do manually. It’s a bit of a pain but I don’t mind it too much.