Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

Speed Demon

When it comes to racing, I have two goals over the next few months: (1) to feel strong and race well at adventure racing nationals in October, and (2) to run a sub-3:40 at the Philly marathon in November.

To accomplish both without injury or burnout, I know that I need a far more concrete plan than I had over the winter and spring, when a rough monthly outline worked fine because everything counts as training for adventure racing.

I’m still working on what that plan will look like, and in the meantime, I’ve spent the past couple weeks getting reacquainted with running.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been running plenty already this year, but it was always just a piece of the larger story, always at the same place and on the same trails, always without garmin or music, without worry of pace or distance, always geared toward the greater goal of getting through a four-day race.

Now, it’s time just to run.

Most of my runs the past couple weeks have been relatively easy, but yesterday I decided to kick it up a notch.

Enter: Speed Work.

I haven’t done speed work in more than two years, when I last trained in earnest for a marathon, so when a friend of a friend invited me to come to her running group yesterday morning, I was a bit apprehensive.

How fast can I run?

Will I be able to keep up?

How will I know what pace I should be hitting?

After lots of conversations with myself, I decided to stop worrying and dive in – until I realized that I had a time conflict with the scheduled group.  Instead, I took the workout that was emailed out and later that afternoon headed for the treadmill.

I was to do:

10 minutes warm up

1 mile @ 10k pace (2 min recovery)

1 mile @ LT (2 min recovery)

4 x 800 @ 5k pace (2 min recovery between each)

The only problem?  I’ve never in my life run a 5k or a 10k, and I’m not even sure what LT means.

So, I took to google.  I started with a marathon training calculator at Runner’s World.  I decided to input a 3:35:00 marathon, and see what I got.


Well, that seems reasonable enough.  Now about this lactate threshold business


So, if my 5k time will be 22:30 (roughly 7:20 pace) and my 10k time will be 46:45 (roughly 7:30), my LT pace should be roughly 7:45.

Sounds easy enough, right?

That is, until you forget all those numbers as you step on the treadmill.

In the end, after my 10 minute warm-up, I ran a mile at an 8:00 pace, a mile at a 7:40 pace, and 4 x 800s at a 7:20 pace.

Was it perfect?  Nah… But it’s a start, right?

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15 responses to “Speed Demon

  1. Kara July 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    So many numbers! I hate when running becomes a math problem 🙂 This is why I like my 50 mile training plan, the simplicity of just “4 hour run” and even the weekday runs don’t get crazy with jargon. I love running, but the thought of having to bring notes as a cheat sheet for a run to remember all my different intervals doesn’t really appeal to me.

    You’re speedy! I’d love to run a sub-4 marathon one day.

  2. Julie (A Case of the Runs) July 20, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Wow! That IS speedy! As you might know, I’m aiming for 4:00 for my next one, and my intervals are supposed to be 2:05-2:15, which is pretty much like your warm-up, ha ha!

  3. Tim July 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Abby,
    First things first, doing speed work on a treadmill? That just isn’t right. Running and treadmills sucks on an easy day, but speed work would be unbearable. As for running calculators, RW is good, but I prefer the McMillan Running Calculator, http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/. It even gives you time and pace ranges for recovery jogs, easy days, long runs, tempos, and speed and sprint work. Check it out, it even provides step by step intructions on building your own training plan.

  4. Stephanie July 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I just met someone last night that’s running the Philly marathon this fall! 🙂

  5. natalie July 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    That’s a tough workout for starting out speedwork!!
    Great job! My running group does speedwork at the track on Wednesday nights but another group I run with more often it’s on Tuesday mornings. I didn’t go this week – way too hot. Treadmill is the way to do it. On the way to a BQ for you! Let’s get together to run soon!

  6. Sarah S @RunningOnWords July 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Woah, all those numbers make my head spin! Good luck with your training!

  7. Kim (Book Worm Runs) July 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    All those numbers freak me out! Sounds like you still managed a great run…welcome back to running full time! 😉

  8. runlikeagirljp@gmail.com July 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Look at your, speedy girl!! You are definitely on the right track. Just remember to keep your long runs SLOW and incorporate some Marathon Pace runs once a week, too. I know you asked how I got to my BQ – it was speedwork, MP training, long slow runs (and sometimes did those as a progression run – about every 3rd long run) and did a boat load of weight training (bleh!).

  9. Jill July 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Sorry, my laptop constantly skips a line or something and I keep putting in my email address in the name line :(.

  10. Laurie July 20, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    We are doing a timed mile next Wednesday. You will run a sub 7. I promise.

  11. mallory July 21, 2011 at 9:20 am

    It’s definitely a start! Way to go. Speed work can be so intimidating sometimes!

  12. Julie Martinez July 21, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I’ve run Philly two years in a row! Hence my blog name. It was my first half and first full. Have you run it before? I think it’s beautiful! I love mile 6 when you go down towards the Ben Franklin Bridge and especially those early miles running through the historic district. The out and back of the last half is so pretty. I wish I could do it again this year.

    Push yourself but don’t defeat yourself. Maybe if you don’t PR this one, you can on one right after it. Sometimes they take a little build up.

    I’m rooting for ya!!

  13. amandacbrooks@yahoo.com July 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    dohhhh all of you girls are going to be aiming for sub 3:40, maybe I need to really get my butt in gear and do more speed work…I am just nervous I can’t do it

  14. the dawn July 26, 2011 at 9:54 am

    i was totally going to suggest mcmillan’s running calculator…but tim beat me to it. i’ve used it in all of my training that calls for specific pace goals. and i do exactly what you did, input a marathon goal and then use the other paces for training. it’s great!

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