Making Progress: Comparing Speed Workouts

Last week, I ventured down to the Orange Reservoir Loop for my first speed workout.

Today, I ran the same workout again. I did the same 5x320m intervals with 320m easy recovery jogs. By keeping everything the same, I’m able to compare the two workouts and see if I’m making progress.

Happily, I am.

Comparing the Two Workouts

When I set out last week, my goal was to run the intervals in about 75 to 78 seconds each. I mostly hit this goal, although one interval was slightly slower (79 seconds).

I ran the five intervals in 75, 76, 74, 79, and 73 seconds. You can see that the fourth one was a bit out of line with the others, but otherwise they were pretty consistent.

This week, I generally had the same goal. But I was less worried about a specific time and more worried about running at the same level of perceived exertion – hard running but sustainable for the full interval.

During the first interval, I was afraid I had let the pace up a bit, but it turns out I was wrong. I was pleasantly surprised when I hit the lap button and saw a time of 73 seconds. That was followed by 71, 72, 73, and 72 seconds.

Two points of comparison here are fairly obvious. First, I ran the intervals faster. I think this is a good sign. Second, I ran the intervals more consistently. I didn’t have an outlier that was significantly slower like I did last time.

The interval data from my Garmin workout.

One of the cool things about using a programmed workout with your Garmin watch is that you can easily isolate the actual intervals from the rest of your run. Although I tracked my warm up, recoveries, and cool down in the same “run,” the screenshot above is just the five intervals.

In the summary line, you can see a few stats that also allow for comparisons. This week, my total time for the five intervals (totaling one mile) was 6:03. Last week, it was 6:19. That puts the minor differences per lap in perspective. It adds up!

The heart rate is an interesting point of comparison as well. Last week, my average heart rate during the intervals was 159 and my max heart rate was 189. By comparison, this week my average heart rate was 148 and my max heart rate was 166.

So I ran the intervals faster and my heart rate was consistently lower throughout.

What’s Next?

I’m excited to see the progress here, although I’m sure that it won’t continue to be so rapid. These are the first speed workouts I’ve done all year, and I’m sure there’s a huge improvement in the first session or two from my body just becoming familiar with the mechanics of running faster.

Next Wednesday, I’ll start transitioning to longer intervals at a slower (~5k) pace. So this is the last time that I’ll run the 5x320m workout, for now.

But I am going to repeat the 5x90s workout I did last Saturday a few times. The last time I run that workout is the week ending December 20, so I’ll be interested in doing a comparison of that workout over time.

At any rate, I think the training block is doing what it’s supposed to. These early repetition workouts are developing my speed and the transition to interval workouts and tempo runs will help develop endurance at an increased speed.

I’d say I’m easily on track to hit my goal of 22:xx in a 5k, and there’s definitely a chance I can make 21:xx by the end of this training block.

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