Treadmill Quickness – Sustained Speed Training

treadmill_gordoHere’s a winter workout that will improve your quickness, give you a VO2max stimulus and enhance your running economy at all speeds.

Start with 15-30 minutes of easy aerobic to warm-up. When traveling I like to use 15 minutes LifeCycle then 15 minutes CrossTrainer.

After my warm-up I hop on the treadmill and do a gradual pace ladder from walking up to FT pace with one- or two-minute steps.  For example, if an athlete has an FT pace of 7 minutes per mile (8.6 mph) then the ladder might look like:

  • Two minutes of each speed 4/5/6/7/8 mph
  • Repeat using 4.5/5.5/6.5/7.5/8.5 mph

After the ladder set, I powerwalk for one to four minutes.

The main set is 16-28 minutes long and requires you to have an estimate of your speed at VO2max pace (vVO2 max). If you are unsure of this speed then use an estimate of how fast you could run a mile (1,600m).

For our example, let’s assume that the athlete with a 7-minute mile FT pace can run a best-effort mile at 6:10 (9.7 mph).

The main structure set is:
12 repeats of 1 minute on / 1 minute off

  • #1 and #2 are done at FT Pace  (8.6 mph for sample athlete)
  • #3 onwards is done at vVO2max  (9.7 mph for sample athlete)
  • “Off” minutes are always done at 50% of vVo2max  (4.8 mph for sample athlete)
  • End with walking to settle heart rate.

Key things:

  • Focus on quickness, not velocity. If you make a mistake then set the target speed a little too low.
  • If you lose form then you are either going too fast, or have done enough repeats. It’s easy to tell when form is gone on a treadmill because you’ll start pounding the deck!
  • Hold your best form during the quick part of the set, as well as during the recovery. Many athletes will be able to powerwalk the recovery minutes at 50% of vVO2max — that is okay.
  • Those of you who move between sea level and altitude will need to adjust your fast paces. My Boulder vVo2max is 11.3mph (5500 ft) and sea level is 12.0mph.  Another way to compensate is to run with 0% grade at altitude and 1% grade at sealevel. Generally, 1% grade is accepted as equating treadmill running to flat outside running.
  • The overall goal of the session is 6-12 minutes worth of vVO2max work. This session is not grueling, when done right. So if you feel worked afterwards then you have done too many repeats or set your target speed too high.

The key thing that the research indicates is running faster than vVO2max doesn’t lead to superior adaptations. A little goes a long way with this type of training and the fact that we don’t need to crush ourselves helps the big picture of managing our fatigue/recovery.


Categories: Run

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