*Disclaimer: Speed work can be a cause of injury if you start with too many reps too soon. It is important to gradually increase your training volume so as to be able to try to avoid injury.
When you are training a marathon and trying to get faster it is essential to do speed work. According to McMillan Running, ” Short, fast repeats improve your running economy (the amount of oxygen consumed at a given pace), and improved running economy is very important in the marathon.” You will also improve your marathon times because you are increasing the volume of training that you are doing at faster speeds. Speed work can be a nice change from the monotony of running longer miles. Speed training should be done one (not more than 2 times per week) with ample time allowed for recovery before a long endurance run.
Here are 3 speed workouts for marathoners to do on the track that you can try:
According to some coaches, Yasso 800’s are a good predictor of your marathon time . . . there are mixed thoughts about this but nonetheless this is a killer workout to help you improve your speed for running. If the prediction is correct take the hours and minutes that you hope for your marathon time and convert in to minutes and seconds. For example to run a 3:45 marathon you would need to run each 800 in 3 minutes and 45 seconds as an average. But there are no guarantees that this is true, marathon times are very dependent on your overall training, weather, terrain of the race course and the fact that you are not racing on a track.
To do this workout warm-up for a mile nice and easy. Then hit the track for consecutive 800m (twice around the track or a half mile) sprints with 3-4 minutes of rest in between each interval. For rest periods this should be an extremely easy jog to get your heart rate back down. You want to rest in between for a long enough time that you can repeat your goal interval time. Start with 4x800m and each week add 1-2 800’s to the workout building up to 8-10 800m intervals. Cool down after the 800’s and stretch. This workout will kick your ass!
Mile repeats are equivalent to 1600m on a track or 4 laps. These should be run at tempo pace. Doing mile repeats at tempo pace will help your body to be able to process lactate and to hold higher paces for longer periods of time.
For the workout warm-up for one easy mile around the track, this can include a dynamic warm-up. Then complete 5X1 mile with one minute rest in between each mile. This will give you the mental benefit of rest while keeping your heart rate up. Finish with a 20 minute cool-down and stretch.
400m sprints will help you with quick leg turnover. These fast repeats will improve your overall running economy. You will build speed and efficiency as a runner and your marathon pace will begin to feel more manageable after having completed many workouts at faster paces.
Begin with a 10-15 minute warm-up then run 4-6 400m with a 200 m easy jog in between each 400. You will never fully recover in between each 400. Each 400m interval should be run at a 5K pace. To intensify this workout increase the number of 400’s. Cool down and stretch post workout.
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Do you ever do speed workouts? Do you do them on the track, the road, or on the trails. What is your favorite speed workout?