A friend recently asked me what it “really” feels like to train for a marathon. Most of the time, it’s fun and feels great. However, an important part of marathon training involves speed workouts. As its name suggests, speed workouts are a great way to improve your speed as a runner. While I do like these, they…um…don’t always feel so pleasant at the time I’m doing them.
The other day, I did a speed workout on the treadmill at my gym. I sort of made it up as I went along. I first did a warm up at about an 8 ½ minute-mile pace. I listened to my music and I felt great.
After running one mile, I came to a complete stop, took off my music, tightened the laces on my running shoes, and began slowly moving the numbers on the treadmill higher. I hit 7, which I had used for the warm up. Then, I kept going up. 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5…9.6. There, that should do it. A 6.15 minute-mile.
This isn’t so bad, I can do this. 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds…
Oh, wait, this is really, really hard.
20, 25, 30 seconds
I’m dripping with sweat.
35, 40 seconds
I feel like I can’t breathe.
OMG! I can’t take this anymore! My arm juts out to stop the treadmill.
I’m breathing very loudly. Others around me turn to stare.
Yet, before I have fully recovered I press “start.” And the numbers begin to creep up once again.
7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5…9.6…9.7. A 6.11 minute mile.
I repeat the same routine all over again…and again…and again.
By the fifth time, I had moved the number up to 9.8, a 6:07-minute mile. I feel like I’m torturing myself. My legs can’t go one step further. My lungs are screaming. My heart is going to rip right out of my body.
In total, I do this 10 times before stopping to do a one-mile “cool down.”
So, in answer to my friend’s question, that’s what a speed workout feels like. One point worth noting, a speed workout is even more beneficial outdoors since you’re running on uneven ground. If you prefer the treadmill though, you may want to consider raising the “incline” a little bit. This will give you more of a challenge.