You may dread them, but speed workouts can be a beneficial addition to your competitive training. Whether you're a swimmer, runner, cyclist or some other type of athlete, speed workouts can help you get faster, build endurance and increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Before you get out and actually start speeding through those intense workouts, take some time to care for your body to prep it for the tough work ahead.
Eat a nutritious meal well before your workout, emphasizing carbohydrates, advises MayoClinic.com. For optimal nutrition, also include vegetables, fruits and some type of lean protein. If it's a big meal, make sure you eat it three or four hours before your workout; you can eat small meals two or three hours before your workout. If you don't eat, you run the risk of feeling light-headed or low energy; if you don't wait after eating, you may get sluggish or get stomach cramps.
Drink water throughout the day, according to the recommended amounts for your body size. Generally, women should drink about 88 ounces in a given day, but that may vary depending on your weight. Don't chug the water, but instead drink a few ounces of room-temperature -- not ice-cold -- water every 30 minutes or so, ensuring that you consume about 12 ounces about two hours before your workout. Then drink another 12 ounces about 30 minutes before your workout, advises sports trainer Jillian Michaels.
Perform a proper warm-up. Speed workouts can be very intense, so you need to be especially careful about bringing your heart rate up gradually before you begin the body of your workout. Walk, jog or cycle slowly for about five to 10 minutes, or until you've broken a light sweat in order to slowly get your heart pumping faster and start delivering more oxygen to your cells.
Do dynamic stretches such as leg kicks, arm swings and arm circles. Dynamic stretching, as opposed to static stretching, can put your muscles through their entire range of motion.
- Rehydrate periodically throughout your workout. Generally, you should drink about 4 to 8 ounces of water every 30 minutes. If your workout is more than one hour long, replenish your salts and carbohydrates by drinking a few ounces of a sports drink. After your workout, be sure to cool down by walking or jogging for about five to 10 minutes, to allow your heart rate to return to normal slowly.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.