This week, we're finally introducing speed training to our schedule and I have been reading all about the advantages and disadvantages of speed training. On one hand, speed work can help improve overall speed and endurance by combining short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phases, repeated multiple times during one exercise session. This can result in an increase in cardiovascular efficiency (i.e. the ability to deliver oxygen to those working muscles), as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. On the other hand, it has been shown that faster paced training runs can also increase your risk of injury.
What are your thoughts on this? Are the gains from consistent speed training greater than the risk of injury?
After reading all kinds of articles on the web, I have made the following suggestions to the runners in my group:
- With speed training, it's necessary have a solid running base - based on what I've read, this "base" is at least 2-3 months of running 3 times per week.
- Running on a track or other soft surfaces (like grass) may be more forgiving and help prevent injuries.
- Be sure to warm up before speed training with a slower, more casual pace run and then cool down with the same afterwards.
- Finally, if experiencing any persistent aches or pains, it may be wise to skip speed training altogether. Let's face it, the runners will still finish their race without it...I'd rather that they make it to the starting line and not be sidelined by an injury.
All that I know is that I want the runners in my group to enjoy running as much as I do and make it to their "A race" properly prepared and injury free!
What is your speed training philosophy? Do you do it when training for races? Do you just run faster? Do you think it's unecessary? Do you not really care and just run?