Steph Schappert's 3 Go-To Workouts For Getting Fast

Hoka NJ-NY Track Club runner Stephanie Schappert (former Villanova great) discusses the importance of speed workouts for runners looking to get better at any distance, and how to incorporate them into a training program.

Read below to learn about Stephanie's favorite speed workouts, as well as her tips and tricks for achieving your next PR!

Photo Source: Shane Ford Photography

3 Workouts to Power Your Speed

by Stephanie Schappert

When someone asks me if they should incorporate speed workouts into their training plan, my answer is almost always yes. Beyond my middle distance runner bias, speed workouts are beneficial for runners looking to PR at any distance - because if you want to get faster, you’re going to have to run faster.

Improving your speed at shorter distances will ultimately yield better results in your longer races. Personally, the seasons where I have run my fastest mile are consistent with me running my fastest 400m and 200m intervals in workouts. Beyond helping you check off a PR from your running bucket list, speed workouts can help you build a better stride. Running faster forces your knees to drive higher, which means a stronger, quicker and more efficient stride.

Ready to discover your innate need for speed? Read on and add one (or more) of my favorite speed sessions to your workout cycle. Remember to properly warm up with a few miles of jogging and active drills before every workout. Post workout, jog an easy mile or two for your cool down - trust me, your body will thank you later.


On the Track: Strides and Turns

From high school, to college and now my professional running career, no matter how fast I run, I can’t seem to shake this workout. Though simple at its core, I strongly urge you not to underestimate this one – a lesson I’m still trying to learn after twelve years of practice and more of a note to self.

So how does it work? It’s as straightforward as it sounds: stride the straightaway of the track and jog the turn. The stride should feel comfortable, but quick. Aim for 85% effort or your goal mile pace. The recovery is active, so that means you’re jogging, or walking if needed. By the time you reach the next straightaway you should feel fairly recovered and ready to crank up the pace again. 

If you’re just beginning to introduce speed into you workout cycle, aim to complete one mile (eight strides and eight jogs) for your first session. As you gain confidence, slowly increase the overall mileage of the workout. Progress from one mile to a mile and a half, to two x one mile (jog/walk a full 400m in between each mile), and eventually graduate to a continuous two miles.


On the Trail: Minuters

This is a staple workout at the beginning of my training cycle, but often makes celebrity appearances throughout my season when I don’t have access to a track. This low pressure speed workout allows you to run totally off feel. While I prefer to tackle this session on a trail, you can certainly opt to do it on a road or paved path.

If you have a countdown timer on your running watch, set it to one minute. Then alternate running one minute hard (ON) and one minute easy (OFF). Your ON pace should be a steady uptempo, but not an all-out sprint. Aim to keep your OFF pace similar to a training or recovery run pace. Then repeat! Start with four Minuters, alternating one minute ON then one minute OFF four times (accumulating four ON minutes during your total of eight minutes). As you get comfortable with the workout, progress from four Minuters to six, and then eight.


On the Road: Hills

Hills pay the bills. Well, they won’t actually pay your credit card bills, but consider hills an investment in your fitness and speed accounts. When scouting a workout location, my personal rule of thumb is to find a hill that looks intimidating from the bottom, but isn’t so steep that I feel like I’m falling backwards.

By adjusting the intensity and length of your hill sessions, the workout possibilities are endless. Below are three of my go-tos:

PWR Pro Tip

If you wake up the morning after a speed session and feel more sore or stiff than usual, don’t panic. New workouts mean you’re waking up muscles that you may not typically activate. As you dial up the intensity of your speed workouts, keep a close eye on your PWR Lab Dashboard for any significant changes in your workload that may put you at increased risk for injury. Remember green means go, but if you hit a yellow or red bar, consider slowing down the pace and/or decreasing the mileage of your next few runs to minimize your injury risk and maximize your potential to train consistently and effectively.

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Stephanie Schappert
About Stephanie Schappert

Stephanie is a professional middle distance runner representing the HOKA New Jersey New York Track Club. After a successful four years at Villanova University, where she was 4-time NCAA DI All-American and 4-time Penn Relays Championship of America Champion, she joined her older sister, Nicole (Schappert) Tully, to continue her running career under the guidance of the legendary, Coach Frank Gagliano. Stephanie was a semi-finalist in 1500m at the 2016 US Olympic Trials. Now, she’s gearing up for the 2020 US Olympic Trials and chasing the title of the fastest Schappert sister.