As we head into the last quarter of the year, some triathletes are racing while others are taking a break before beginning a new training block. Those that are taking a break will often ask, “How can I keep some of my hard-earned speed, while still taking the break I need to allow my body to recover?”
No one, not even the world’s top athletes, can maintain race form all year round. Though you can’t keep top form all year, you can minimize fitness losses. One way to keep some speed work included in your running, without doing mentally and physically exhausting intervals is to include race-pace, or slightly faster, running in their program at least twice per month. Some will include these intervals once per week.
You can do this on the road if you have a monitor that displays pace or you can go to the track. After a good warm-up, do 3 to 6 fast run segments that are 20 to 60 seconds long. Make the fast segments at race pace or slightly faster.
These short, fast run segments keep your legs and head used to the feeling of running fast without the fatigue of interval sessions reserved for race season.
When you go to add speed work back to your training mix, you'll find the time required to feel like running fast again is significantly reduced, compared to when you spend your off season running slow, easy miles.
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