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Michele Gonzalez: 8 Tips to Survive Speed Work

Like it or not, speed work is an integral part of any training plan – regardless if you are training for a 5K, 10K or marathon. For many runners, it’s the toughest and most dreaded workout of the week. It takes practice to learn to keep going when your body is hurting, when your breathing is heavy and when your mind is ready to quit. But pushing through the workouts during training helps develop fast-twitch muscles and equals race day speed. Just what you need to chase down your goals!

Here are eight tips to get you through your next speed session.

Warm Up and Stretch

Ensure you are giving your body time to warmup before starting the faster running. 10-15 minutes of easy running followed by dynamic stretching will help you begin the speed portion warmed up and ready to roll.

Focus on one Interval at a Time

It can be extremely disheartening to think about how many repeats you have left, especially at the beginning of a workout. Focus on the interval you are in and the blissful recovery period you will get after you finish that one set. Don’t think about the next one until it’s time.

Focus on Form

The more tired you are, the more likely your form is suffering. As the workout goes on, concentrate on basic form improvements – stand tall, kick off your toes, quick turnover and elbows in. Proper form will help you avoid injuries and run stronger and faster while also temporarily helping you forget the suffering.

Use Mantras

Don’t underestimate the mental boost of a motivating quote or mantra. Find one that speaks to you and repeat it in your mind when things start to get tough.

Here are a few of my favorites:

“Embrace the pain.”

“Clear your mind of can’t.” – Samuel Johnson

“You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.” – Gatorade ad

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Use Music

Find some upbeat, loud, motivating music that will get you pumped up and excited to work hard.

It’s Supposed to Hurt

Knowing – and accepting – that you will be in pain will help you deal with the uncomfortableness when it arrives. Speed work is “work” – it’s going to be hard and you are going to want to quit.

Picture Race Day

Envision yourself approaching the finish of your goal race. Picture yourself running hard and feeling strong. Use that image to keep you motivated during your workout.

It’s Worth It

Doing this workout and staying strong until the finish will pay off on race day. Work now to celebrate later.