Speed sessions are a must for anyone looking to improve their run times, but they are also a fantastic session for anyone who wants to improve their overall fitness – you don’t need to be ‘a runner’, you just need to be able to walk, jog or run at two different speeds. These are often referred to as speed interval sessions.
I find the easiest way to measure how far and how fast I am going is on a treadmill, but with the increasing amount of gadgets and apps these days you can easily work this out on routes from your front door (I am just not very technical so I’ll be sticking to the gym for now!)
Here are some of my favourites, but as with all exercise, these are guidelines and need to be performed in accordance with your own fitness levels – if you don’t want to run, use a faster walking pace on your efforts and either a static rest or a slower walk for your recovery.
- 200m – 400m – 600m – 800m – 600m – 400m – 200m
Each run at a hard pace, keeping a constant speed throughout. Jog or walk recovery for 1-2 minutes between each one, depending on your fitness levels. Maybe alternate between 1 and 2 minute recoveries until your fitness allows for 1 minute recoveries throughout.
- 400m hard with 400m jog recovery
Begin at 6 repetitions and build this up to 10 as your fitness improves. Build your speed up gradually and/or decrease the recovery to 300m or 200m if you don’t want to go any faster.
- 3 x 200m fast with 30 second recovery between each one.
Repeat this set three times with a 5 minute recovery between each set. It sounds easy but it’s not!
Some tips for success:
- Aim to do one of these sessions a week, you can even mix it up and rotate them each week for a bit of variety!
- Only change one variable at a time, e.g. decrease your recovery time OR increase your speed OR add a repetition, etc.
- You should always cool down after exercise but it is especially important with high intensity exercise – 5-10 minutes slow jog/walk (depending on your session) followed by some static stretches held for 20 – 30 seconds each.
What interval sessions do you enjoy? Do you prefer speed intervals or would you rather climb some hills?
I have picked up these sessions over the years, but I think most of them originated with Runners World, except the 200m session which came from Toni Minichiello, Jess Ennis’ coach (although sadly not directly!)