MMRF Endurance Events

Marathon Training Tips - Week 9

Week #9 – Speed Workouts

I often say that performance in endurance racing is not about who goes the fastest, it's about who slows down the least. A common statement made by runners after marathons is “at the halfway point I was ‘on track for’ (fill in the time) marathon…” Then something happens that slowed them down. Well, quite often what slowed them down was simply a lack of preparation, specifically their endurance workouts. Not speed training, just good old long runs to build endurance. I believe this comes first. So, you can run a faster marathon without speed workouts by building up your endurance. This endurance allows you to maintain a steady pace throughout your entire race.

There does come a time however, when your fitness or goals are at a point where to get faster you must train faster. The good news is that speed work need not (and should not) mean lengthy workouts or be done several times a week. Speed work does not have to be performed at the track or with a heart rate monitor. The non-elite runner can benefit tremendously by doing one interval workout per week on the roads or trails. Here is an example of one:

  • 15 minute easy warm up

  • 3 x 5 minutes hard at 2 minutes rest: This means go for five minutes at a "comfortably hard" pace, slow down to an easy jog for two minutes to recover, then repeat this progression 2 more times. I equate the five minute interval to intensity where you're not dying, but you don't want to be there much more than five minutes.

  • 15 minute easy cool down

You can also use shorter weekend races to get faster on the run as well. Running a 5K or 10K race every few weeks will help increase your run speed, helping get in some good speed workouts without the boredom of doing endless loops around a track all by yourself.