Speedwork: Love it or hate it?

Runners tend to have a love/hate relationship with speedwork. Everyone I’ve talked to either enjoys it or hates it and considers it a necessary evil. Or they just avoid it altogether. My training partner loathes our track workouts so much she says she gets nervous like she does before races. I can understand if you are anticipating the pain you’re about to endure.

Personally, I enjoy most speedwork. There’s a caveat. I said most. My strength is speed but my weakness is endurance. This means I can run repeats all day long with only moderate discomfort. My lungs go long before my legs do so the frequent recoveries make it easy. I enjoy running fast like that. You ever see how children love running.. it’s kind of like that. Now, not all speedwork is intervals. Tempo runs have historically been difficult for me. I had a tendency to skip them or turn them into intervals. Really I was just hurting myself by shying away from my weakness. During the last buildup I did a lot more tempo/threshold type of work and saw gains. I’ve continued and hopefully it’s paying off. In a matter of 3 weeks I dropped 13sec/mi off of an 8 mile steady state run. So they’re important. But tempo runs are truly a grind. When I get to the point where I really can’t catch my breath, I start to sink. Running long miles at an uncomfortable pace when no one is cheering isn’t my idea of a good time. The only real positives I come away with are the statistics of how fast I ran and knowing I ran a good workout (hopefully at a slightly faster pace than last time, and yes I do like to look over my logs to see the trends).

Speedwork certainly is difficult. You have to be willing to push yourself when no one is looking and when your time isn’t going to be recorded for everyone to see. It feels like work and it is work. The question is how much are you willing to put yourself through to see improvement?


About thedillyruns

In 2007 I decided to join a running group to train for a marathon. I'd never run more than 4 miles at a stretch and never raced. I grew up playing basketball. After a promising first half marathon, I grew hungry to run faster.
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