Need for Speed – Speed Work Tips for Runners

Need for Speed

“You will never know your limits until you push yourself to them.”

Last week when I was in Philadelphia, the lows the last two nights I was there were in the single digits so I decided to use the treadmill in the hotel gym. To be honest, treadmills bore me. So when I have to do them I like to do intervals, it makes the time go by faster. I used to be better about doing speed training, both indoor and outdoor. Lately, with kid stuff and work, it just hasn’t happened. So last week being in the tiny hotel gym, I decided to give it my all. I did 30 minutes of speed intervals and I was dripping with sweat. I would jog for 2 minutes and then run at a challenging pace for about 3 minutes. Sometimes I varied it up a little but for a good 2 or 3 minutes out of every 5, I was really pushing myself out of my comfort zone. At the time it was hard, but wow did I feel good after.

A few days later I went out for my Saturday run, 20 miles to be exact. I wasn’t expecting my best run because I had been off schedule and it had been stressful leaving my kids for my work trip. To my surprise, I had the best average pace I have had on a run in months! I know without a doubt that it was the speed work I had done on the treadmill. (Track or treadmill, speed work is a must.) Speed training and cross training are both very important in any kind of distance running. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Increases your confidence in your ability to get better and push your limits
  • Burns more calories
  • Increases endurance and of course, pace
  • Helps to improve your form
  • Improves the efficiency of your neuromuscular system (Improves fast twitch muscle fiber response)


There are however a few things to remember to prevent injury:

  • Warm up
  • Rest the day after
  • Start slow, don’t push yourself too fast the first time
  • Start with no more than once a week
  • Be sure you have running shoes in good condition (not too worn out)


When you think about it, pushing yourself out of a running comfort zone, is like anything in life. To get better and push yourself at anything you do, you have to step out of your comfort zone. That’s exactly why they say running is the greatest metaphor for life. My recent speed training was a great reminder for me of what I had been missing. It is so important to challenge your limits. For me, it keeps me motivated….and we all need a little motivation sometimes.


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