Speedwork for Dummies……

Let’s be honest, I don’t think any of you are dumb but I do think that things get too technical for the “everyday” runner.  I’m an everyday runner, who would like to increase my everyday pace.  I don’t want to contemplate  terminology that is ambiguous, I mean does anyone really understand the term tempo run?  I don’t.  I run a variety of paces.  Therefore, I don’t know how to calculate my “tempo pace”.  Do I use a tempo pace based on what I’d like to run?  Or what I might run?  Or what I am currently running?   Or what I ran last year?  Really, what the hell is a tempo run?  Don’t tell me, I don’t even want to know.

I also don’t want a speed workout that is so scary that I will make excuses not be able to fit it into my life.  I like to K.I.S.S.  I also like to keep it short and sweet.  I’m going to work really hard……but it won’t last long!  Okay, I can do this and so can you! 


I will outline my basic/beginner speed routine that I’ve been using on my treadmill.  Yes, I actually bought a treadmill (see the stock photo below).  Yes, I bought a treadmill just for speedwork.  Why?  I do all my speedwork at 4am, when the track and gym are both sleeping closed. 

NordicTrack 1750:image

I know that most would prefer to run outside but the bottom line is that you can’t cheat the treadmill.  Not even if you want to, so run, or get thrown off the back.  Totally up to you.  In fact, maybe you should attach the dorky safety cord like I do.  Now proceed with caution and please, adjust the speed to fit your current fitness level cuz I can’t help you if you hurt yourself, I’ll just send you to Dr. Alexis.


  • Warm Up – Dynamic Stretching, then I start walking at 4 mph (15:00 min/mile pace)
  • Walk for 2.5 minutes
  • Slow Jog for 2.5 minutes (Recovery Pace – 6 mph – 10:00 pace)
  • 1 minute interval – 7 mph – 8:34 pace
  • 1 minute recovery – 6 mph – 10:00 pace
  • 1 minute interval – 8 mph – 7:30 pace
  • 1 minute recovery
  • Repeat 7:30 interval/recovery
  • 1 minute interval – 9 mph – 6:40 pace
  • 1 minute recovery
  • Repeat 6:40 interval/recovery x10
  • Cool Down – walk/jog/static stretching/foam rolling

When you start, you might not be able to do 10 intervals at your desired pace.  Don’t worry about that.  This is a process.  A process of getting stronger and faster.  You also want to ease your body into running outside the comfort zone because you want to be safe and not hurt yourself.  So the first time, target 5 intervals.  If you feel like you are going to die before you finish that 5th one, you did it right.  If you feel like you could run a lot more, then you are went too slow.  Either do a few extra intervals or readjust your plan for the next speed session.  You want to push your limits while still being in control.  The 6:40 pace for me is barely in control.  I can barely hold it for 1 minute so yes, I use the safety cord.  The first speed workout, I only did 3 at the 6:40  pace.  Then next workout I did 5 at that pace, last time I did 8, and this morning I did 10.  I will hold here for a few weeks, then start holding the intervals longer.  Its a building process.  I want to build while still being in control and not hurting myself.  If it takes me longer to get where I’m going then fine.   In fact, I’m not even sure where I’m going but I’m going to get there faster…..eventually.  🙂

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** amanda@tootallfritz.com