Some argue that spending too much time running faster early on will leave you feeling fatugued and burnt out before the end of the triathlon season; while others argue it will only make you stronger and faster. Both are true...kind of.
Both Craig and I believe that speed work over the winter months is beneficial. HOWEVER, the type of speed work that you do is equally important. During the winter training period it is critical to run at increased speeds that will help you improve 1.) Muscular Endurance and 2.) Strength and Form.
Doing workouts that will improve those two skills will bring you into the triathlon season with a solid base for the speed work that will take place throughout the season.
So what is the difference between speed during the winter and speed during the season? Pacing. During the winter, as I stated above, your goals should be to improve muscular endurance and strength & form. That means that your intervals are longer and your pace is slower. Yes. Slower! During the winter you are not running at sub 5k and 10k paces but slower than 10k and faster than half marathon paces. This means closer to a tempo pace. The end result: Great Efficiency! You have the ability to go faster longer with the same effort!
Enter the beginning of the season. You are now ready to incorporate SOME faster pacing into your speed work because you built a solid foundation during the winter months. You begin to work on LTHR and VO2 max. Your intervals are shorter and faster with a mix of short and long recoveries. Nice!
You keep the longer sets, but with long recovery, enabling a metabolic change to occur so that you can more efficiently use oxygen while racing. After all, we are training for race day!
Need some inspiration to get out there? Try this workout early in the season to get you started!
Warm Up: 10-15 min. of easy running with stretching and 4x20 sec. strides.
Main Set: 3x(4x300, 1x600). Take 1:30 rest between each 300 & 600. Take 3 minutes between each set. *Recovery is walking.
Cool Down: 10-15 min. of easy running.