Adding speedwork to your training has lots of benefits, including improved performance, form, efficiency, confidence, and even more calories burned. But to prevent running injuries, it's important that runners take some precautions before jumping into speed training. Follow these steps before you add speedwork to your training.
1. Establish a good running base.
If you're a beginner runner or you've taken an extended break from running, you should be running consistently (3-4 times a week) for at least three months before starting speedwork.
2. Pick the right course and surface.
During speed sessions, you're less likely to pay attention to potential hazards because you may be a little more uncomfortable than you are during an easy run, and you're really focused on your workout. So try to pick a course that's relatively traffic-free and look for a smooth, obstacle-free route. For example, you may be running so fast that you don't see sidewalk cracks, potholes on the road, or tree roots on a dirt path. If you have access to a rubberized track (check your local high school), that's a great option.
3. Always warm up.
4. Don't start too fast.
5. Focus on proper running form.
6. Rest the day after.
Don't be tempted to run hard two days in a row. You may feel fine the next time, but your body is still recovering -- and some people feel more muscle soreness two days later. Give yourself some down time by either taking a complete rest day or doing easy cross training the day after doing speedwork.
7. Do one session a week to start.
8. Don't skip your cooldown.
A 5-10 minute cooldown at the end of your workout is just as important as your warm-up. Easy running or walking after you finish your speedwork will prevent blood from pooling in your legs and help flush out the lactic acid and other waste products from your muscles.
Also see: How to Run a Faster Mile