“Unofficial” Speed Work

I’m a big believer in taking time off from official training or speed work during the “off season” – giving the legs and mind a chance to recuperate from the rigors of a training cycle. I love to run without a plan or schedule for a while – running if I want, when I want, however fast or not-so-fast I want and having no expectations or pressure.

I try to maintain certain mileage, mostly for maintaining my base and also because it keeps me feeling good (40ish miles work for me), but I generally don’t think about pace too much. At times I’ve worried that taking too much time off speed work will leave me feeling ‘flat’ and slow going into my next training cycle.

I know the break is important, but that doesn’t mean I can’t push the pace occasionally when the mood strikes. I enjoy running along at my happy, comfortable, conversational pace most days… then sometimes I get the urge to just GO. And when that happens, I run with it.

On one of my lunch-time runs last week, I was fueled by the gorgeous sunny day and a new Vega Pre-Workout Energizer that I had the opportunity to try [review coming soon]. As soon as I set foot on the sidewalk, I could tell that I wanted to run fast.

I decided to make my way over to a loop that I used frequently last winter for my mid-day tempo runs. It’s relatively flat and quiet, providing a great 3K route that I would repeat once, twice or three + times in the thick of my training.

I forced myself to slow down for the warm up, and let my legs go as soon as I reached that invisible starting line. The wind on my face, the rhythm of my breathing and the south of my steps were invigorating as I quickly settled into my (PR) half marathon pace. It certainly didn’t feel easy, but it wasn’t supposed to. This was my opportunity to challenge myself and tap into some of my determination that has been locked away for a while now. I unleashed the runner inside who thrives on pushing the limits.

I couldn’t get too carried away on this particular day, but 4K at a “manageably hard” pace was just what I needed to stoke the fire and remind me what’s in store when I kick off my next round of training.

What’s your favourite way to keep things fresh between training cycles?



12 thoughts on ““Unofficial” Speed Work

  1. Taking a nap for me is my favorite way to keep things fresh between training cycles. By that I mean making sure I get plenty of proper rest so that my body and just as importantly my mind can reset themselves.

    This past year has been a long training cycle and I am looking forward to finishing this marathon on Sunday and taking two weeks off from structured training. Just get those recovery rides and runs in and get refreshed. Lots of rest and water…..maybe even an extra slice of pizza.

  2. Love this! Just go when you feel like it – nothing to lose.

    I keep things easy by doing whatever I want – enjoying the freedom to run as many days, or as few, as I see fit for that week. I also love being able to say YES to things – yoga classes, extra group runs, extra happy hours, etc. 🙂

  3. As I found out today.. it’s yoga and crosstraining. I love to run..but sometimes the calmness of a yoga class is what I need to mentally re-energize me. I’m glad you were able to get some speed work in but for fun. Glad you are enjoying your runs in between training cycles.

  4. lately, i have been walking a lot. Other than my bootcamp, that is one way I get cardio in. A good 20-30 minutes minute walk on an uphill works wonders for my cardio and calms me down also!

    good job on your off season runs!

  5. Even though speed work is out for me right now, I do still get the urge to RUN FAST sometimes. It’s fun to just open it up on the flat stretches in my park, clock a “fast” mile here and there, and feel like I pushed myself–some. It’s fun!! So glad you’re enjoying it, too!! About your last post, I was buzzed by some huge, tan-colored bird in the park yesterday morning. Wings out, it swooped RIGHT in front of my face across the path. I was definitely startled and jumped. The bird was totally cool about it!

  6. I have actually had the longest rest period in the last 3 years. It was very hard to accept but I feel very refreshed and ready to run/cross train/experience the pain.
    I am so loving the Vega line….we are going broke with all the stuff we use from it!

  7. I love doing speedwork! I wish I never had to take time off from it. And I can’t believe that you maintain about 40 miles a week – I so want to do that, I just hope my body can handle it. I worry about increasing mileage and getting injured.

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