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Speedwork on the Bike

by Meghann on August 12, 2011

Finally, FINALLY, I was able to try some speed work on the bike and I loved it! Yippee!


When I first started running I had no idea what speed work was. It took me two years and one marathon until I even began attempting it. But, when I did finally figure it out, I saw the improvements immediately. I was able to shave 2 minutes off of my 5k time, 5 minutes off of my 10k time, and a full 30 minutes off of my marathon time thanks to speed work.

Do you want to be a faster runner? Kick your butt with speed work, trust me, it’s worth it!

I know the same train of thought can be said for swimming and cycling. I’ve already seen the time start to come off in swimming, but cycling is a whole other issue. I’m still a newbie on the bike and, despite having my bike for 2 years now, I’ve only recently started growing comfortable and confidant on the bike. I’ve reached the state where I’m ready to stop ‘just getting by’ on the bike and ready to really start pushing myself.

Luckily, I have Coach Courtney ready and willing to teach me where to start.


We met for a 30 mile ride this morning with a plan to focus on gaining speed on the bike.

My comfortable average right now is 15 mph, so Courtney worked our speed plan around that.

We started with an easy 5 mile warm up on the trail, then practiced riding in a line for a few miles. She started off pulling me at 16 mph for a mile, then we switched and I began pulling at 16 mph. This was my first time attempting riding in a line and Courtney was great at teaching me hand signals and what to pay attention to in case I ever work up the guts to ride in a line with a group.

After a few back and forths we switched to half mile sprints with half mile recovers. We held 18 mph for a half mile, then dropped back to easy for another half. We repeated this until the turn around.

On the way back we practiced holding a line again, then finished with some strength. Courtney instructed me to drop to my hardest gear, stand up, and push as hard as I could. That one hurt! My hamstrings were burning by the time the half mile was up, then we would have to repeat it all over again. My legs were shot!

We finished with a 5 mile cool down and were done for the day.


The 30 miles flew by! Courtney gave me a lot of great advice for working on speed with my shorter rides in the future. Now, I just need to find some hills to train on to balance it out. Darn you flat Florida! Oh, well.

I had a piece of toast with almond butter before our ride and made a smoothie in a bowl when I made it back home.


In the mix:

  • Frozen Mango
  • Frozen Pineapple
  • Spinach
  • Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
  • Ice
  • Xanthum Gum
  • Vanilla Soy Milk

On top

  • Chocolate Granola
  • Uncle Sam’s Strawberry


I added too much soymilk, so it was a little runnier than normal. I slurped up the sides before digging in with a spoon.


Happy Friday Everyone!

1 Mallory @ It's Only Life August 12, 2011 at 11:09 am

Your breakfasts always look so great! I envy your photography skills!

Awesome speed work! I am looking to become a faster runner so I think I’ll do some interval training this morning

2 jessecurry August 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

Florida’s pretty low on hills, but you can always ride up and down a parking garage to squeeze in some elevation changes.

Downtown Tampa has a pretty empty garage at Whiting & Florida, USF has a couple good garages, and the bridges on and off Davis Island will give you a quick elevation change if you’re riding down Bayshore.

3 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen August 12, 2011 at 11:16 am

Great tip to drop the gear and stand up for the sprints, I didn’t know that. Would love to hear more about speedwork on the bike since I just got one and am looking for some good workouts on it!
Gina @ Running to the Kitchen recently posted..Tempo run & my top 5 favorite running gear

4 Kate (What Kate is Cooking) August 12, 2011 at 11:24 am

I am horrible at doing speedwork when I run- I can’t even imagine doing it on a bike!
Kate (What Kate is Cooking) recently posted..Fifteen Miles- Oh, $@!#

5 Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather August 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

Sounds like you have a great coach! Ive tried sprints running but never on a bike. Nice work girl!
Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather recently posted..Granola Girl Friday

6 Marissa Elliot August 12, 2011 at 11:29 am

meghann! When was your last rest day?! Is your body screaming for a break? You do a ton!

7 melissa August 12, 2011 at 11:35 am

awesome, I am still
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8 melissa August 12, 2011 at 11:36 am

Sorry, that first comment was accidental. really impressed with how you’ve mastered the bike clips. PS I am giving away your fav target workout top on my blog. See you next week–OMFG!!
melissa recently posted..I’ve Got a Feeling

9 Shannon @ Mon Amour August 12, 2011 at 11:57 am

Sounds like a great speed workout! I have never tried speedwork on the bike before but I think it will really help with triathlons
Shannon @ Mon Amour recently posted..Running Higher Mileage

10 allison @ thesundayflog August 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

i need to practice speedwork SO badly. i wish i had a good training partner like courtney to show me how to do this!!
allison @ thesundayflog recently posted..From the Kitchen: Homemade Berger Cookies

11 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance August 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

LOVE Courtney’s UCF apparel πŸ˜‰ Go knights!
Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance recently posted..Thick Oats & Cafe Ragazzi

12 Courtney August 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Check out Clermont for hills! Also, the Van Fleet has some in Sumter County. I currently live in Lake County and we have some doozies. πŸ™‚
Courtney recently posted..Wait… August?!

13 Lucy August 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm

That skirt is a big NO NO girl, looks awful on you

14 Meghann August 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm

It’s a cycling skirt. I’m not the biggest fan of it either, but my other two cycling shorts were still damp from previous rides this week. Plus, the cycling skirt has more padding on the butt, which makes it a tad more comfortable for longer rides.

15 Katy (The Singing Runner) August 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I actually like the skirt! Super cute!!! πŸ™‚
Katy (The Singing Runner) recently posted..Clip In, Clip Out, And Fall…

16 Army Amy* August 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Sounds like a great workout!*
Army Amy* recently posted..Therapized

17 Ali @ Ali Runs August 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Awesome workout! It is always nice to have someone who knows what they are doing to help out with the technical stuff! I’m sure you’ll feel comfortable in no time the more you practice.
Ali @ Ali Runs recently posted..Cherry Hill Loop

18 Katy (The Singing Runner) August 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I just got a road bike on Tuesday and after practicing clipping in and out yesterday (and falling a lot ;)) I went out this morning for a little bit of a longer ride. I wasn’t nearly as fast as you (15 miles in a little over an hour and 7 minutes), but it was fun!

Definitely a fun thing to do, especially when I can’t run right now! πŸ™‚
Katy (The Singing Runner) recently posted..Clip In, Clip Out, And Fall…

19 Hillary August 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I need to start doing speed work on my runs—it’s just something that I never think to focus on, but I know it’s worth it!
Hillary recently posted..Back in the Kitchen

20 Margo @ Peanut Butter Trees August 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm

That’s so neat how big of an impact speed training can have on your race times – I need to get on board with this type of training!

21 Mary @ Bites and Bliss August 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Woohoo! great ride! I LOVE speedwork! It’s definitely a good way to mix things up and make the miles fly by!
Mary @ Bites and Bliss recently posted..Easy Roasted Chickpeas and a winner!

22 EL August 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Lakeland has some good hills around Florida Southern College. Never rode a bike on them, but they are killer for running.

23 Kayla @ August 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm

After my first half marathon, I am now training for my second one and trying speed work. I don’t know if I have it exactly right, but I am hoping it and a flat course will pay off in 5 weeks (eek!) when I race in Philly!

24 Yolie @ Practising Wellness August 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I love your running/biking skirt, its so cute! Congratulations on rocking an amazing workout! πŸ˜€ your green smoothie looks totally delicious and refreshing! <3 xyx
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25 Jane @ Jane's Addictions August 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Look at you go speed demon! I have been slacking on my speed training for my marathon. I’ve mostly been focusing on getting the miles in for the week. Any recommendations on what intervals I should incorporate to get my running time faster by October?
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26 Meghann August 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm
27 Julie @ There and Back Again August 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Congrats on the cycling accomplishment! Do you have any advice and/or favorite running speed workouts for beginners? I have only run for endurance before but have (very) recently started racing and would love to know how to go about it! Thanks! πŸ™‚
Julie @ There and Back Again recently posted..Summer Showers

28 Emily@SavoryandSavage August 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Grats on your great ride! You are really progressing in the biking department.

Your smoothie in a bowl looks so refreshing this morning. I just ate some pancakes but now I want a smoothie πŸ™‚
Emily@SavoryandSavage recently posted..Resolutions and blueberry pancakes

29 Corey @ Learning Patience August 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm

That breakfast looks delicious! πŸ™‚ xoxo from Trinidad
Corey @ Learning Patience recently posted..Date night should not include screaming children

30 pen (pen at peace) August 12, 2011 at 10:28 pm

don’t worry, the augusta bike course isn’t that hilly.
pen (pen at peace) recently posted..Artichoke and Avocado Gazpacho

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