Speed work should be about pushing your limits! Pushing yourself way out of your comfort zone, and then pushing a tad bit harder past that level of uncomfortablness! (I like exclamation points and making up words!) The treadmill is a great tool for doing speed work. I will inject here that I have a new confidence about my running that I never had before, Kenyan has always told me that I had the build of a fast runner and I thought he was just trying to be sweet to his wife that is merely 5'6" and he is 6'2" which is my idea of fast--long skinny legs!(Kenyan legs) I mean no offense here by using the term Kenyan, Kenyans are super fast and it has always been a term of endearment that I have used when talking about my husbands running skills. Something clicked I finally realized I was a runner and I could go faster. Kenyan had mentioned speed work to me before and I was always thinking to myself I'm just trying to finish my runs I cannot run any faster, you are crazy! I've read about speed work before and they mention all these technical terms like meters, and repeats, do 800m at 5k pace, take a 30 sec break, yada yada! Foreign language I thought!
I will post a picture of Kenyan's speed work for me that he gave me before my last half marathon. Here are two ways of doing speed work; if you're on the treadmill, give yourself a time or distance and you HAVE to stick to it unless you truly feel like you are going to die(I mean it!) ex: one mile at 10min/mile pace, stop and stretch, hop back on and crank it up to 9 min pace for a mile, then crank up to 8.5 pace for a mile, then for half a mile do 8 min pace, then for .5 mile go back down to 10 pace. I'm not a Kenyan and I did this, so can you!(adjust pace according to yourself) You want to push your limits, it will not only make you faster it will make you stronger and build your race day confidence. Another way to do speed work is simply picking a point and sprinting to it, for example if you are running where there are lots of trees; pick a tree to sprint to and do this for say 30 min.
I hope this makes sense. Happy running y'all!!!
I agree with Lacey, you never know what you can do until you just try it! Your body will do so much more than your mind tells you you can do! Don't let your mind talk your body out of being all that it can be! Also, don't try to set out and do what someone else has done just because they have and your inner competitor drives you too fast. I cannot do this same speed work that Lacey has here, however, I could do, 1/2 mile @ 11min pace, stretch good, 1 mile at 10 pace, 1 mile at 10.5 pace, 1 mile at 9 pace. Then cool down at 11 min. I may be able to do a little bit more and get down to 8.5, but I certainly wouldn't start there. You have to know your body, listen to your body and trust your instincts. Don't quit just because something is uncomfortable, but don't push yourself to injury either (there is nothing more frustrating!!!). When I started doing speed work this is how I started... Run 30 seconds as fast as I could with good form, then walk for 1 min at a fast pace, and repeat 3 times. So, I would do my Thursday run, which was about 40 mins at a good strong pace, but not killer, then do this speed training afterwards. Start with that. Once that is comfortable try something else, do more repeats, try a mile at a pace you don't normally keep. Like when Lacey challenged me to run a 9 min mile. My average pace is around 10 min miles, so that was hard, but didn't kill me. Afterwards, I could not continue at that pace or really keep a comfortable 10 min mile. So I did some shorter intervals. If you have a treadmill using the intervals program is awesome also. I have asthma, so I have to know when to push and when to listen to my lungs that are trying to cease up on me! But you will know when it's just your mind telling you to stop, you should evaluate, can I breathe, are my legs in pain (not discomfort), and is my form good? If these things are ok, it's mind over matter and you should keep going. If you can't breathe in fully--slow down! If your legs are in intense PAIN, stop because again injury is super frustrating and will set you back! If you can't keep good form, you need to bring it down a notch!
Keep running, keep working, and you'll be shocked at what you can accomplish! Run like you stole something! :)