How can I safely get back into speedwork after running inconsistently for the past couple of months?
Ah, speedwork. It hurts so good! But alas, if it hurts so bad, you can derail your season before it even gets started.
How we ramp into training mode is critical to how we race, and running is where the majority of injuries tend to emerge. I like a steppingstone approach that ensures the right type of work at the right time.
Step 1: Pre-hab. This is what keeps you out of rehab. Our studio is conveniently located within Finish Line Physical Therapy—a great, athlete-focused PT in NYC. All of our athletes go through their pre-hab screening. It provides a baseline for mobility, gait, flexibility and balance.
Step 2: Know thyself. Identify your strengths and weaknesses through a simple SWOTT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, timing (when you work out, scheduling commitments), toys (gear at your disposal).
Step 3: Get your run on. I love to see four to six weeks of goal-oriented baseline running. Staying off the hills and track, I recommend two runs per week of 60–90 minutes capping the heart rate at an endurance level and focusing on stride cadence.
After a warm-up, run three to four miles at an endurance-level heart rate on the same route each week. Let’s say week one the pace of those miles was 9:10. By week four we would like to see that pace drop while the heart rate remains the same.
Step 4: Put speed skills before speedwork. Running fast is a skill to be developed: It comes from posture, foot speed and drive. Practice going fast with stride-outs and fartlek runs as a start, then graduate to the track. Great form will make you faster; poor form will always be a limiting factor.
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