Fitness Tip of the Day: Don't Confuse Speed Workouts

A problem of semantics may be slowing you down

Runners: Don’t confuse speed work with speed development. It may sound like semantics, but there’s a difference—one that even escapes coaches and publications who may use the term interchangeably. Understanding the difference, though, is important to appreciate—and benefit from—both types of workouts.

Speed development is training at your top-end speed, i.e. the absolute fastest pace you can run, which for most runners tops out at less than 100 meters. (But working on your speed development can benefit distance runners!) On the other hand, traditional speed work, i.e., 400-meter or mile repeats, is about improving Vo2Max or anaerobic threshold.

If you’re interested in really digging into the differences (which you should be), and want a training program, check out Speed Development For Distance Runners, which goes more in depth into this topic.

—Jeff Gaudette has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff is certified by the USATF, the RRCA and has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.