First, find your VO2 max pace. According to Mayer, this is approximately the pace at which you could run for an all-out, 10-minute effort. “It is slightly faster than 5K pace in highly trained runners, and closer to an all-out mile pace for newer runners.”
If you want to give it a shot, use your 5K or max mile pace to get started. Then, run at that pace for three to five minutes, with two to three minutes of active recovery (walking or jogging) in between intervals. Complete five intervals, with a warm-up and cool-down of 1-2 miles or 10-15 minutes each.
13. Go by feel, not by pace.
One of the biggest reasons runners can come to dread speed workouts is because they become overly preoccupied with hitting certain paces and feel discouraged or inclined to scrap the workout altogether if they don’t hit a specific number right away.
“When adding speed to workouts, it is helpful to learn to recognize your effort levels internally and to play with different paces, but by going by feel rather than obsessing about the numbers of your watch,” Mayer says. “The workouts should be challenging, but not totally exhausting.”
Similarly, focusing more on effort and feel than the numbers on your watch can make a workout feel less daunting when you’re dealt with less favorable conditions, like cold weather, wind, or freezing precipitation.
“It is always better to finish a workout healthy, even if it’s done at a slower pace than your goal,” Mayer says.
14. Tweak your watch display.
Along those lines, obsessing over your pace at any given interval can not only get you down if you’re struggling to hit it, but can also distract you from putting in your max work since you’ll be looking at your wrist every few seconds.
That’s where playing the preventive game can come in big. Before you go out for your run, tweak the settings on your watch display so pace is not shown. That way, says Corkum, you’ll have the data to analyze after the fact so you can gauge your progress, but you won’t have it to distract you during your actual workout. Plus, if you’re doing a speed workout that involves time, you’ll still be able to look at that to determine your run-recovery intervals.
15. Run hills to build speed.
Yes, hills will make sprints feel harder, but giving the incline some love during your training is important if you want to get faster come an eventual race day.
“Running short, fast hill repeats requires a dynamic stride, and can build more strength in your calves and glutes,” Mayer says. “Those muscles can help with powering through faster workouts or races.”
Hill sprints are obviously super important if you know a specific course you’ll be running is hilly, but it also has carryover for flatter courses, too. So don’t forget to think about incline when you’re planning out your training.
16. Add explosive work to your training.
Ever wonder why you still feel like you struggle on small hills even if you run them fairly often? If you feel…