Getting Up to Speed, Part 2

By Megan Cox

In my last post, I mentioned that I’m eager to speed up this process. No, I don’t mean that I want my first half-marathon in several years to get here any faster. Good heavens, no! What I’d like to do is quicken my slow pace. Two pregnancies have certainly taken a toll on my overall fitness level.

But I am not discouraged. Once upon a time, I was a figure skater, and although I could make it through a grueling four minute skating program, at the time I wasn’t capable of even running two miles at a steady pace.

Over the past decade, I’ve hung up my skates and laced up my running shoes, and since then, I’ve run everything from a 5K to a full marathon. I may not be a hip 20-something anymore (although I’m not sure “hip” was ever a term used in conjunction with yours truly), but I’m certain that I can build my way back up to my previous fitness level.

The key is to do this safely. And, much as I wince at the idea, it’s time to talk about finding a speed workout to fit into my cramped schedule.

I found a great list at There are several treadmill workouts listed here that are intended to improve one’s speed. This is a good thing for me, because at least two of my runs each week are taking place on this torture device. (Hey, the treadmill is the only place I can watch my baby play on his mat and keep an eye on the baby monitor while his sister naps. I even multitask when I run!)

After a quick perusal of the selection, I think I found something that might work. The method is known at the Fartlek Treadmill Workout. It’s promoted as a workout for intermediate runners that helps a runner overcome boredom on the treadmill. Oh do I need that!

Here’s the rundown:

  • Warm up: 5 minutes – walk/slow jog at 3.5 MPH, at a 7% incline.
  • One mile: Run at 6 mph, at a 1% incline.
  • Rest set: Slow it down to 5 mph and run for 3 minutes.
  • Work set: Speed up to 6.8 mph for 30 seconds.
  • Rest set: Go back to 5 mph for 3 minutes.
  • Rest/work sets: Keep repeating the 3 minute/30 seconds intervals until the clock reaches 25 minutes.
  • One mile: Run at 6 mph for another mile.
  • Cool down: Slowly jog for 5 minutes at 3.5 mph at a slight incline (5% to 7%).

Now, the great thing about this workout is that runners can adjust the above speeds according to their level of fitness. I’ve never run on a 7% incline before, and while 3.5 mph does not seem extraordinarily fast to me, I might be singing a different tune on that incline. But I think a custom version of this workout would be an acceptable replacement for one of my runs in the 16-week training plan I’m following.

And hey, at least it will give me something to do—you know, besides entertaining my baby from the treadmill with a gasping rendition of Beyonce’s Single Ladies. I’m not sure my vocal talents are being fully appreciated anyway!

This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.

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