RA Fitness Blog, RADanceFitness, Running

Training Talk: Speed Pyramid Sessions

If you’re training to get faster or hit a new PB at a race, it’s likely that you’re going to be doing a few speed sessions in your training. There’s lots of variation when it comes to speed sessions, you might do fixed time intervals, distance based sprints, you may even do a few strides at the end of longer runs. It can all get a little bit confusing so during this post I’m going to be talking specifically about Pyramid sessions. Keep reading below to find out more.

WHAT IS A PYRAMID SESSION?
Overall a pyramid session is simply just a variation of a normal speed session. The difference is that the intervals changed length as you go through the work out. As the length increases, you’re to try and decrease your speed. Allowing yourself to build up different ‘gears’. At the smallest it could be your sprint speed, whereas the fastest might be 10km or half marathon pace. This can be particularly useful if you’ve got a couple of goals in mind, as you can use the session to understand what the pace for each goal is, and how they differ from each other. It will also build up endurance at those faster speeds and you’ll be sustaining them, after having done other speed work. Having the short sprint intervals also helps to create a little kicker at the end of your race, and who wouldn’t like to be able to sprint to the end?

My advice would be to start easy, choose a session that looks like you’d be comfortable with. If you go in and choose one that looks like a completely challenge you may be put off when it is too tough. You can always choose a harder session next time, or jog the recoveries.

Currently I’ve worked with two different Pyramid session layouts, a 3 step and a 5 step.

For the 3 step pyramid I do this:
Warmup – usually about 1-2km
Effort – 1 min
Recover – 1 min
Effort – 2 mins
Recover – 1 min
Effort – 3 mins
Recover – 1 min
Effort – 2 mins
Recover – 1 min
Effort – 1 min
Recover – 1 min
Cool down – usually about 1-2km

For a 5 step pyramid I do this:
Warmup – usually about 1-2km
Effort – 1 min
Recover – 1:30 mins
Effort – 2 mins
Recover – 1:30 mins
Effort – 3 mins
Recover – 1:30 mins
Effort – 4 mins
Recover – 1:30 mins
Effort – 5 mins
Recover – 1:30 mins
Effort – 4 mins
Recover – 1:30 mins
Effort – 3 mins
Recover – 1:30 mins
Effort – 2 mins
Recover – 1:30 mins
Effort – 1 min
Recover – 1:30 mins
Cool down – usually about 1-2km

In these sessions I keep the recovery period the same regardless of how long the interval is this is simply to add to the fatigue in the legs, but can easily be changed if that’s something you struggle with until you get used to it.

The perfect pyramid would be that when you look back at each pace point you create a v-shape. The the longest middle interval having the slowest pace and the short intervals with the fastest pace. Don’t become too much of a perfectionist though when it comes to these things. Every time I’ve attempted these so far I haven’t made the ‘perfect’ v, but I’ve still enjoyed myself. Alright maybe not in the moment but afterwards when you realised you ran quite fast

If you’re thinking about giving either of these sessions below I have a video of me doing a version of both of these! For the 3 step pyramid you can find the video here, and the 5 step can be viewed on this link. I’m pretty honest in both of these vlogs but your experience might be totally different. I like these session as it does highlight one of my weaknesses which is being able to find me gears. Hopefully with a bit of practice I’ll get better and better at finding each of my paces.

As always you can follow along with my own running through the power of social media. I’m on both Strava (Rhiannon A) and Instagram (RADanceFitness), as well as Youtube (Rhiannon A). I’ll also be posting my training logs at the end of each week (or there abouts) so you can get an in-depth read of my thoughts training as an average runner.

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