Runs feeling a little monotonous? Trying to improve your pace? If you are running regularly and have a good pace, you might want to consider throwing in some speedwork. For many, the concept of "speedwork" can seem a little intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some easy options to consider.
Intervals are slightly more structured, but also help you become a stronger runner. If you want to run intervals,warm up first and then pick a time or distance. For example, you might run one minute hard followed by three minutes of easy running/walking to recover. Alternately, you could run 0.1 miles hard followed by 0.25 miles easy running/walking to recover. The key is to alternate hard and easy efforts for the same set time or distance.
Tempo Runs help you increase your endurance and speed because they are about sustained effort. Once you warm up, you begin running at a medium or "comfortably" hard pace (i.e. not able to have a normal conversation, but not gasping for breath either). Keep this pace for the duration of your run until you reach your cool down.
Your body will adapt remarkably quickly, but the key is also to make sure that you're giving it time to really recover between these tougher runs to avoid injury (speedwork and long runs are both considered harder efforts). Especially if you're newer to running, you don't need to do more than one day of speedwork a week (I still don't do more than one day a week). Listen to your body and start to get to know what feels "easy," "comfortable," and "hard." This is also great training, physical and mental, if you decide to do any races.
So get out there, try something new, and have fun with it!