Speedwork: It totally sucks.

By sucks, I mean, literally drags the air out of me, burning my lungs and my legs.

When I’m doing speedwork, I feel like I look like an idiot, especially when I’m running on the treadmill. I have to put my hands above my head and take deep breaths in between sprints while I’m sweating profusely.

I imagine people at the gym look at me and think, “What is wrong with that crazy woman?”

I’ve been focused on this type of workout a lot lately, which usually means that I dread going to the gym.

Speedwork when running or cycling usually encompasses interval training, which consists of periods of high-intensity exercise interspersed with rest or recovery (low-intensity) periods.

When doing interval training, I typically run 3 to 4 miles total at a time, starting with at least a mile warmup.

For each interval, I run a short distance (anywhere from ¼ to ½ mile) at 30 seconds to one minute faster than my average running pace. Following this high-intensity period is a “rest” (slow running or walking) for 1/10 to ¼ mile. I usually complete this interval set three to four times per workout. I end with a one-mile, cool-down jog.

I’m not an expert on these workouts (I’ve definitely had some coaching help along the way); but in my experience, they work.

When I started doing triathlons, I was running a 12- to 13-minute-per-mile pace. I’m down to running an 8½-minute-per-mile pace when doing a 5K run. I can’t believe how much I have improved over these past five years.

Speedwork has really pushed this process along. I know I won’t be able to keep up that pace per mile over Ironman Louisville because of the longer distance, but these will help me just go faster overall.

By doing these shorter, harder workouts now, I will be faster when I start adding distance as my race season begins. I learned a good lesson when I started trying to improve my speed: To run faster, you’ve got to run faster.

Even if it means looking like a crazy woman at the gym.

Stacey Parisi is a Seymour native and resident. Her columns will appear regularly in The Tribune as she trains to compete in the Ironman Louisville 2015.

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Jordan Morey is sports editor at The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at jmorey@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.