Even if You’re Not Training For a Race Speed Play and Faster Workouts are Fun…Even Addicting

Not everyone runs to race. On the flip side I’ve known runners who really ONLY run to race. The latter are the ones that need the extra endorphin and adrenaline fix of race day to keep them motivated to put in the training and stay dedicated. Their motivation can lull in the off-season and they are the ones who may say, “The day of my last race I’m hanging up the shoes all together and gonna get as fat as humanly possible.” (No, they don’t all say this but I’ve got a friend who did and though laughing, truly meant it…haha.)
tinkerbell running
But for the people who just run to run, or if they do run a race the clock is a non-factor, I’ve gotten the question, “Why should I do anything more than my usual ‘easy’ runs? Why bother with speed workouts, or any kind of structured workouts at all?”

Valid point and I’m guilty of getting stuck in the ‘pace rut’ of going through large chunks of time where yea, I’d be putting in plenty of daily miles, but they were just ‘running’ running and hardly training running.

But let’s face it, it’s fun to challenge yourself sometimes! Yea, picking up the pace hurts but toying around with different speeds becomes addicting…and once you get the ball rolling and see improvement that builds a wave of motivation momentum.

* Surges and Striders: if you’re coming off a large chunk of time where you’ve just been ‘putting in the miles’ start integrating pick-ups, or surges, into your runs. Just pick up the pace for a 150 meters or so and feel your legs get that faster turn-over. You can also add these in after your run with strides.

* Fartleks and Relaxed Intervals: unstructured workouts, or loosely structured ones, can feel liberating while still getting you working. If you’re not exactly training for an event, or have a long time out, start with fartleks and play around with varying the minutes on to minutes off. Do sets of one minute hard, then one minute easy; you could do a pyramid style fartlek where the hard minutes go 1:2:3:2:1; or invent your own combo.
track runner
* Break-down and Progression Runs: these are runs that just start out as an easy run but you gradually get faster over the distance and by the end (depending on the run) you could be running at or near a race pace. These runs are great training tools for those actually planning on racing an event because you can structure them so that the main chunk of the run is used as a recovery day but with the end, by including some race pace or faster running you can ‘sneak in’ extra intensity that won’t take that much out of you. Thus, you’ll get in some work without leaving you too depleted to perform well in your next actual workout. These runs can be fun because once you get in the groove and the pace starts to quicken, especially if you’re with a partner or group, those endorphins kick in and pushing it feels oddly exhilarating. Yea, it hurts, but in that good way.

The point is, even if you’re not out there still planning to race yourself all out or in quest of a PR, it IS still fun to do actual workouts, be it hill repeats, tempos, intervals, or just some loosely mapped out fartleks. If you’re not in training this is where you can just be creative and do things more on the fly.

Yes, putting in the miles and running for the pleasure of it (and the liberty to eat like a runner!) is totally awesome…but sometimes even a runner for life craves a little speed play. 😉

1) How would you define your running; do you run ‘to run’, run to race, or somewhere in between?

2) If you’re not racing for a team of have seasons, do you run many races yourself?

3) Do you enjoy mixing up your runs and workouts with speed play or adding hills? What do you like to do?

4) Do you see yourself as a ‘lifer’ when it comes to running?
YES! 🙂

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14 thoughts on “Even if You’re Not Training For a Race Speed Play and Faster Workouts are Fun…Even Addicting

  1. Not gonna lie – I’m totally in it for the cake 😉 And the endorphin boost! I find that doing speed work (or any change up in the routine, really) makes the endorphins even more euphoric, and the cake even more delicious!

  2. I’m honestly somewhere in between. Sometimes I run just to run and sometimes I pick up the pace as I go on.
    I run races during cross country season and then I take a few months off and start more races from spring back to fall.
    I love running intervals in the summer, it’s odd but I’m ok with it. And once I start doing hills again I usually love it.
    And if by “lifer” you mean runner for life then yes!

  3. As I’ve told you before I dislike speedwork outs on a track or tready…but I love doing hills and intervals, tempos or just playing it by ear and seeing if I can sprint at the end of my long run (a sign I ran it properly)

    right now I just want to run. PS: I had a dream I got stuck in that cryo chamber 😛 hahaha

  4. I run to run. But I also race just to run as well. I know that the reward waiting for me at the end isn’t a shiny first place medal, but that cookie is round and shiny with chocolate chips and feels like first place to my taste buds!
    Your cartoon really says it all Cait – Because I really like cake 🙂
    I also really enjoy the occasional speed workout. Because I am just re-conditioning myself for longer distances I am just doing some ‘pick up the pace’ intervals but in a few weeks I will probably dedicate at least one day a week to more structured speed workouts. Mainly because I like the way they make me feel after a hard session.
    Oh cookie, I hear you calling my name 🙂

  5. I’ll be completely honest – I run to race! I don’t like to think about the day that I run my “last race” because I want to race until I kick the bucket or my body gives out on me. Even if I stop PRing, I love the atmosphere and how I can push myself in that setting! Just thinking about races is enough to motivate me. As much as I love endorphins and cake – nothing beats the rush of a race. So the fact that I can have all three is awesome 🙂

  6. “picking up the pace hurts”…I like pain. lol. I dunno, I love to just, run but I also love to race….I guess I run because I love to race, but I love the training part too. These are great “speedplay” ideas too!! gahhh I’m like chomping at the bit to do some fartleks hahaha

    • i agree with u…i like both and both offer up different little rushes. and as for the pain, us runners tend to run towards it and like it in our perverse little way. 🙂

  7. So right now I’m running because I love running…but I am trying to find a marathon or a half-marathon to do in a couple months, because it’d be nice to channel all this effort into a good race. So we’ll see! I definitely do NOT need a race to motivate me, I just love running itself.

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