I guess the title of this post should really be “Speed Work?!?!” considering how often I do it. Which is never. Last time I tried was back in 2016. I two workouts and hated them so called it quits.

My dislike of speed in general goes back to when I started running. I never liked running to begin with because I hated that out-of-breath-I-think-I’m-gonna-puke feeling. It wasn’t until I slowed down that I realized that running could actually be enjoyable. Shocker.

Then once it became fun, I didn’t want to stop. It seemed like every other running article I read was about recovering from injuries and none of them included happy runners. I equated running fast with injury risk so it was just another reason for me not to do speed work.

My thinking started to change last November after my last 5K. This was the first time in seemingly ever that I didn’t absolutely hate running fast. I didn’t necessarily fall in love with the pace or the effort, but it definitely got me thinking maybe fast wasn’t as bad as I remembered it being. Then this past spring I started mentally penciling in series of speed workouts this fall leading up to my annual Thanksgiving 5K. That lead to recently when all of my races have been cancelled or postponed till who knows when and I thought why not now?

The quintessential speed workout is supposed to be Yasso 800s. This is 10 repeats of 800 meters and is normally done on a track. I picked a co-worker’s brain on how he usually does this workout and decided to give it a go Tuesday morning.

Workout – 10x800m with 2-2:15min recovery

  • Warmup – 3.4 miles @10:18 pace
  • Lap 1 – 3m35s
  • Lap 2 – 3m37s
  • Lap 3 – 3m34s
  • Lap 4 – 3m35s
  • Lap 5 – 3m32s
  • Lap 6 – 3m33s
  • Lap 7 – 3m30s
  • Lap 8 – 3m34s
  • Lap 9 – 3m30s
  • Lap 10 – 3m29s
  • Cool down – 3.4 miles @9:45 pace

I went in targeting 3 minutes 40 seconds for each 800, however that was mostly because the math for 200m splits were easy (55 seconds). The pace was hard because I never run that fast, but I felt under control. I wasn’t gasping for breath at the end and I didn’t notice myself fading as I progressed through the second lap on the track. My legs started feeling a little tired as I finished up the fourth rep and I remember thinking that I may need to cut things short after 6 or 8. The sixth 800m though felt really good and at that point I knew I would be able to finish the workout.

I’m sure people are going to look at that workout and shake their heads. First as 3.4 miles is a long distance to warm-up and cool down. Also, because my recovery periods were a little on the short side. When I get up and run in the morning, I just want to step out my door and go. I don’t want to get in my truck and drive somewhere then mess around with my keys. Guess how far I live from the local track. Yup. Those extra miles meant the workout was going to take longer than I would have liked so I cut back the recovery distance to 200m walking rather than a 400m easy jog.

This is far from a perfect workout, however I’m not the type of person to let perfect be the enemy of better. An imperfect speed workout is better than a perfect one I never do. And surprisingly, this is a workout that I want to do again. It was challenging without being too challenging. The only change I’ll make is to push a little harder and target 3 minute 30 seconds per 800m. And if next week’s workout goes equally well, maybe Track Tuesday will become my new thing.