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I’m Bringing Speed Work Back

Justin, have your people call my people, pretty sure I just penned the title for your next hit single.

I’m writing this post a day late, thanks to a healthy mix of sleeping through an alarm or three, life chaos, and happy houring, but it ended up working out really well because I’m currently experiencing a severe amount of that second day soreness thing which will help me provide a better evaluation of my Monday evening workout. “Sore” being the operative word here. You guys know what I’m talking about, right? The first day after a hard workout is when you start feeling some teases of sore, but the next day is when BOOM it hits you like a train. I knew I was in for a treat when I woke up to pee at 2 am and could barely turn my body in bed.

The cause of this soreness?


TRX and kettlebells. The deadliest duo I’ve encountered at the gym.

My friend John Jeff knows I’m a sucker for a killer workout, so he invited me to join his Monday evening class for a muscle quivering good time.


But before we chat about this, let’s back up a few minutes and talk about the running workout I did right before joining JJ for some TRXin.

If you’ve been through a running injury before, then you know there are a couple of golden rules of recovery:

1) Do not increase your mileage by more than 10 percent at a time. Let’s give me a B- on adhering to this rule. Minus compliments of some overeager long runnin’

2) Do not simultaneously increase distance and speed work. Choose one and run with it (pun very intended).

Obviously I’ve been focused on the whole distance thing. But over the weekend, I decided it was time to reintroduce myself to speed work. So on Monday evening, I set out to tackle some hill repeats.

Now, as I’m from Vermont aka the Green Mountain State, I am no stranger to hills.


And at times in my life, I’ve been rather proud of my ability to demolish an incline.

Like, when training for one of the hilliest legs at Hood to Coast


Or, during my months of work leading up to IMLP. Lake Placid is known for it’s very hill heavy elevation profile and I spent hours and hours running and biking hills around DC to get ready for racing 140.6 miles through mountainous upstate New York.


But lately? Well, my current hill shape is probably best summed up by the kind words one of my running friends uttered to me in recent days:

“Emily, you suck at hills.”

Harsh, sure, but these days, sadly very true.

So on Monday night, I declared the official start of Operation Stop Sucking at Hills, and I ran straight from work to one of my favorite local hills.


There’s a reason they call it Capitol Hill.

The Capitol is fantastic for hill sprints because the building is situated between two, fairly steep quarter mile inclines. This gives you many, many options for recovery distances between each hill sprint, with the added bonus (if you’re a huge political nerd like I am) of seeing Members of Congress cross the path in front of you as you’re struggling for oxygen at the top of each incline. Some people go to Hollywood to see celebrities, I run hills at the Capitol to spot US Senators. 


Now, historically when I’ve done hill workouts, I’ve used the highly complex method of finding a hill of any distance, running as hard as I can to the top of it, jogging down and repeating 4-8 times. I don’t track my pace, I don’t time the repeats, I just run hard. On Monday night, I tried something different and I loved it. Instead of running blind, I timed each repeat and used the same starting/stopping points to ensure consistent distances. Having a set time to try and beat on each repeat helped me finish each hill strong instead of succumbing to the temptation to  back off the pace when you’re dying and cursing your inability to breathe in the final steps of the incline. And because I’m super competitive with myself, I tried to beat each time on each repeat. Crazy concept: adding a little structure to a workout=more productive sweat session.

I busted out 5 of these hill repeats before I had to run the threeish miles home and house a banana before meeting John Jeff at the gym.


7.75 miles closer to not totally sucking at hills.

Word of advice: don’t do your first speed workout in months immediately before trying TRX and kettlebells. I love a good workout induced fatigue as much as the next endurance junkie, but this combination of workouts nearly destroyed me.


The TRX/Kettlebell workout was 60 straight minutes of 60 second circuits that made me want to swing my kettlebell straight in the direction of the clock to make the workout stop or at our trainer, who was all too fond of telling us to go deeper, faster, or harder when all I wanted to do was go deep enough to hit the floor hard and stay there.

The biggest accomplishment of the evening was definitely not injuring myself, or anyone else in the room, with one of the kettlebells. Those things are terrifying. I kept seeing skull cracking and hearing the sound of ambulance sirens as I swung that thing around the room, between my legs and overhead. Luckily, all of my bones survived the workout. With a danger rating off the charts, I could honestly never work out with kettle bells again and sweat happy. But the TRX?


Hook me up with more of that.

The TRX straps look like something you would find on a playground. At first you’re all “look at me swinging around on these straps, WEEEEE” and then 5 seconds later you meet The Burning. And let me tell you The Burning  (caused by the whole, balance challenge involved with using the straps) wakes up muscles you didn’t even know you had. After several months of near daily pilates, I like to think I have a strong core but the TRX straps and some jack knifing plank would prove otherwise. I’m not someone who stops during a workout, but after several circuits of these killers, I found my knees begging for the floor. And who knew you could do so many things with a couple of ropes hanging from the ceiling? But seriously folks, full body workout on a hook.

Consider me a TRX believer, my sore obliques and back confirm that this is a rock solid workout option for rock solid muscles. I am officially lusting after my next meeting with these babies.

Happy Leap Day friends! How are you spending your bonus day? I’ll be scrambling to tackle my 26.2 mile long to do list while spending some QT with my running gear later today.

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25 Responses to I’m Bringing Speed Work Back

  1. I’m a HUGE TRX fan, I even blogged about it and I’m NOT a consistent blogger by any means. I also love kettlebells, but am scared of the heavier weights and the possible skull cracking you mentioned. Glad your drinking the TRX kool-aid, it is REALLY a great workout!!!

  2. BLAH!
    TRX is the devil….
    i love/hate it! I used to take it ALL.THE.TIME. after a serious brick workout, and my entire body quivered for the duration!!

  3. Kettlebells AND TRX in one class? That is intense. Love to see that a sports club brand gym has great classes, also.

  4. I’ve learned to love hills since I’m surrounded by them. My running buddy hated me after I secretly planned battery street into the last mile of our long run on Monday, but I thought it was great. You’ve inspired me to go to another TRX class – my back/shoulders were so sore after the first class I went to, but it was a great class!

    • I used to live at the top of King Street and my running partner lived off of the top of Battery. Ending every run with such huge hills sucked/was so awesome. I miss Vermont!

  5. I can’t believe you tackled Kettlebells and TRX in addition to speedwork. When my coach breaks out the TRX I know that the only thing I’m going to do speedily is fall down and seriously consider ripping my arms off.

  6. I love (hate?) Capitol Hill for speed training with hills. In fact, I think you just solved my “What speed workout do I do tomorrow?” conundrum. So, thanks!

    That TRX class looks really interesting. I’ve yet to try that or Kettlebells, but I’m adding them to my list once my spring racing is done.

    • It’s definitely a love/hate relationship for me too, although mostly love. Have a great hill workout! (PS apparently you’re already recovered from your bad ass half? congrats!)

  7. kettlebells = sorry, brain damage from a workout, can you repeat that? yikes.

  8. I love biking hills (I’m that “ON YO LEFT” crazy girl in the tri), I hate running them (snails pass me).
    I bike hills all the time. I run hills very rarely.
    Coincidence? Probably not.

  9. I’ve been trying to run hills at least once a week. Well, hill, singular. 3 miles up, 3 miles down. Piece of crap…

    I love kettlebells :) I’m using the trx right now only because I’m recovering from an injury. Blahhhh, I just want to do unassisted squats!

  10. Your speed work sounds sweet. I love structured workouts. And following that by a strength workout? Ugh! That sounds tough. Oh and that boy John Jeff is mighty hunky. Future prospect or is he already taken?

  11. Emily, I usually do Capitol Hill repeats on Friday mornings if you want to join me?

    • I actually teach that morning so I can’t, but I love that you also are a Cap Hill believer!

  12. I can’t imagine you “sucking” at anything when it comes to running, but I’m glad your TRX workout was fulfilling. Those kettle bells kick my ass (in a good way….)!!!

    xo Marie
    Chocolate & Wine

  13. Emily I just started reading your blog – I love it even though it makes me feel horribly out of shape! I work on the Hill and love that you too love to run it! What’s the point in living in DC if you don’t soak up the sights, right?

    • RIGHT. I never get tired of running around DC. Never, never, never. And welcome to the blog!

  14. I have seen TRX around but haven’t had the chance to try it yet. It looks pretty intense. I’ve started some interval workouts to my running schedule and I’m loving the results that I’m seeing. Plus I get good and sweaty – just how I like it!

  15. My rear delt muscles are “killing” me…and I only did one TRX for it this morning!

  16. […] TRX lit my fire, and this weekend I’m taking a Spring Break Body Bootcamp Ride that I expect to […]

  17. […] So I settled into a pace 30 seconds slower than my marathon goal pace. And it was still a totally enjoyable workout. And keeping the pace at a comfortable speed allowed for some hill work on some steep rollers during the last few miles of the run. And “hill work” just really means chasing my faster friend up the inclines because while it was acknowledged that I’ve improved a little, the consensus seemed to be that I “still suck at hills.” […]

  18. […] my one session of hill repeats has not changed this fact. […]