Reflecting on my Repetition Run Progress

Last week, I wrapped up the speedwork part of my 5k training block.

In the first phase of the training block, I was focusing on speed and general endurance. I spent my two workouts each week on speedwork – repetition runs according to Jack Daniels – and I spent the rest of my time on easy to moderate runs.

In the second phase, I introduced some longer intervals at 5k pace. I ran those during one workout, and I continued to run repetitions in the other.

This week, I’ll enter phase three. This means phasing out the repetitions and introducing some tempo runs and threshold work.

Since I ran my last speed workout of this training block on Saturday, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my progress.

What Workout Are We Comparing?

I did two slightly different speed workouts throughout this training block.

One of them focused on a specific distance, and I ran 5x320m intervals. The other, I focused on time. I ran 5x90s intervals. These were slightly longer – closer to 400m – but similar to the 320m intervals.

For consistency, I’m going to compare the latter workout. I ran this workout five times over a similar course – starting on November 21 and ending on December 19.

Each time, I ran it on a loop on the streets near my house. The only difference was that this last time I only use a relatively flat straightaway. On the previous four workouts, I had run the full loop and there were several hills that occurred on the intervals.

So this limits the direct comparison of one workout to another. But I can still evaluate how I did this last time and think about how I’ve progressed.

My Starting Point – November 21

The first time I ran this workout, I had just started doing speedwork. I had done one 5x320m workout that Wednesday, but otherwise I hadn’t done any speedwork.

I wasn’t sure what pace to target. But my mile time trial was completed in 6:41, and I wanted to run these at or slightly faster than mile pace. I started out targeting 6:15 to 6:30/mi, and I figured I’d hone it in from there. My main goal was to find a pace that I could maintain throughout the five reps without having a significant fall off over the course of the workout.

In that first workout, I was relatively slow. I ran the first rep at 6:13 pace, and I was exhausted. I kept going, and the other intervals were significantly slower – 6:48, 6:51, 6:50, and 6:37. The middle three involved hills, so they might be a bit inflated. But they’re still far above the 6:13, and they’re above my goal (6:30).

According to Garmin’s summary of the workout, these five intervals averaged a pace of 6:39 and I covered 1.13 miles.

My Final Workout – December 19

Now let’s compare that to five weeks later. Again, I modified the route a little bit, so the intervals were more or less flat. I’d expect this to help a little bit in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th interval.

This time, I ran much more even splits. And I was well below my original goal. After I saw my progress, I revised that goal to 6:00 to 6:15 pace.

The first split was 6:06 pace. Right on the money. I slowed down slightly over the next two intervals – 6:10 pace – and a little more in the 4th – 6:18. But I kicked it into high gear for the final interval and I ran 6:01.

While the splits weren’t perfectly consistent, and I still saw a drop in the middle, they were pretty close. The first and the last rep were close, and I managed to improve a bit by the last rep.

Overall, my average pace for the workout was 6:09 and I covered 1.22 miles. That’s a full 30 seconds per mile faster than when I started.

Where Do I Go From Here?

I have about a month left before my 5k time trial in January.

I’m done with speedwork, and at this point I’m working on developing more endurance and speed endurance. I’m doing longer intervals, and this week I’ll increase the volume a bit to 5x1000m intervals. I’m also replacing the repetition workout with a tempo run at threshold pace.

My speed has improved significantly over the last month or so. My repetitions have dropped to close to 6:00/mi pace, and I’m running my longer intervals around 7:00/mi pace. I think I’m on track to run my 5k at around 7:00 to 7:15/mi pace – which would put me in position to achieve my stretch goal of 21:xx.

I’ll probably add some strides into my easy runs and/or after my tempo runs to help maintain this speed. But I won’t be doing any more workouts targeting speed for the remainder of this training block.

I’m also looking forward to half marathon training in the spring. I spent the morning planning out roughly what I want that to look like, and I’ll write about that process in the next few days.

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