Reverse Speed Workout

Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while may remember my Tuesday night track workouts with my beloved Shammies. They’ve been workouts of joy, pain, bonding, frustration, and pretty much everything in between.

Before my knee started being a jerk, I was really starting to see results from attending these speed workouts. Last year, Coach Steve set my goal 5K pace at 10:47, so that I could get used to hitting my average pace (based on recent race times) before working on getting faster. By the time I started attending the workouts this spring, I had surprised myself with a super-fast-for-me mile PR (8:42), and Steve had me ramp up my pace during workouts to a 9:30 – 9:45 range. And I was actually pulling it off, pretty consistently! I was beyond chuffed that I was getting faster, and was super giddy after each workout.

photo(9)Then my knee started being a jerk. The only Shammies events I was attending were book club meetings (with all the other injured runners) and occasional board meetings. I missed my peeps, I missed running, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how my faster pace was probably slipping away with every week I was sat on the couch with ice on my knee.

Anyway, this past Tuesday was the third week in a row that I made it back to Tuesday night track workouts. (I talked about my 2-mile gentle run at the end of my last post.) As I jogged slowly around Lane 6 while the rest of my club sped through intervals past me, I started thinking about how I was basically doing the opposite of their speed workout… a reverse speed workout, if you will.

This is what the Shammies’ workout looked like this week:
-8 x 400 @ 5K pace, 200m jog between, 60 second rest after set
-4 x 100 @ sprint, 100m jog between, 60 second rest after set
-6 x 200 @ sprint, 200m jog between

And this is what my workout looked like:
-8 x 400m @ 11:00 pace or slower, 200m walk between, stop for water after each 800:

trackIt is SO difficult to keep my pace below a certain mark when everyone else is speeding by me! Especially the 4 x 100s… I wanted to do those so badly… short sprints are when I actually feel fast around those speedsters! But I was good and kept an eye on Simon, making sure to slow it down if I saw myself dropping into the 10:00s. Even when I was into my last 800 and was feeling really good, when the devil on my shoulder said “Speed these intervals up a little, it’ll be fun!” I only listened to him for a few seconds before dropping my speed again, so as not to overtax my still-dodgy knee.

It seemed so weird to be fighting to keep my pace under a certain mark, while everyone else was pushing themselves to run at their fastest speeds. A “reverse” speed workout for sure!

photo(10)Apart from a few twinges in the knee during my first few reps, my knee behaved itself. I was so tempted to push the pace at the end because the second half of my workout was totally pain-free! Maybe pushing the pace slightly wouldn’t have hurt, who knows… I just didn’t want to risk it.

Another reason to not push it? It was frikkin’ hot. It had reached the mid-90s (around 34 Celsius) during the day, and was still in the mid-80s (~29 C) by 7pm, halfway through our workout. Plus the sun was setting directly into our faces for half the track. I’ve never seen so much sweat at a track workout, and they’re usually sweaty affairs! I was totally soaked, and I wasn’t even expending half the energy everyone else was. Pushing the pace at that point might have just done me in.

Even though I didn’t get to experience the “I’m getting faster, this is awesome!!” runner’s high after Tuesday’s workout, I got to have the “I’m running and not really hurting anymore!!” injured runner’s high, and that works for me!


Have you ever purposely tried to keep your pace under a certain mark during a run?

How’s the weather where you are? Hot and humid like it’s been here?

Do you do speed work? What kinds of workouts do you do for it?


14 thoughts on “Reverse Speed Workout

  1. Keeping the pace down can be tough when you’re feeling great. Like you, sometimes I just want to push it but know I will regret it later. Keep it up.

  2. I’m training with low intensity based heart rate – I have to keep my miles below around 9:30. It’s a real struggle as I’ve never run this slowly in all my life and it makes running a bit of a chore. Having said that, it’s critical to build a good base and I’m seeing results so I guess it’s okay…

  3. Ugh, humidity needs to go away. Our weather is all out of whack thanks to some tropical storm and is has been so muggy! I’ve been trying to work on running a more consistent pace instead of my usual surging with walk breaks and it is so hard! Sometimes I feel like I am dragging but other times the same pace will feel super speedy but be no faster. Grrr. That track looks pretty awesome.

    • I didn’t think California was supposed to be humid! You guys are having crazy weather this year. (Too bad they can’t turn the humidity into water for the crops somehow…) It’s funny how working on your pace can sometimes mess with your head, or how different the same pace can feel one day from another. So weird. And the track is nice! It’s especially awesome when the school is open and there are bathrooms πŸ™‚

  4. Glad to see you’re back at the track, even if you aren’t technically doing speedwork yet. Making yourself slow down is just as mentally tough as going fast, and you don’t even get the “look how fast I am!” boost.

    • Thanks! I’m definitely glad to be back πŸ™‚ The lack of boost makes it hard for sure. I had to keep giving myself different boosts, like “look how far I’ve run without knee pain!” It kind of helped, but not the same. Oh well, I’ll get back there one of these days!

  5. Glad to hear you’re running pain-free again! It can be hard to be patient. I struggle with slowing down sometimes but it’s definitely an important and necessary part of running. Keep staying positive and you’ll be back!!

  6. Glad you’re seeing improvement! I’m fighting to keep my easy runs ACTUALLY easy these days. If I see myself getting to speedy, I make a conscious effort to slow down. It’s hard, cause I always want to go fast!

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