Speed Training // Fartleks & intervals & tempos, oh my!

[t gellenbeck]

Speed training is a key ingredient in any Personal Record [PR],  although I wouldn’t advise it for beginning runners (as injuries could creep up).   When running my second half marathon, I took TEN MINUTES off my finish time, simply by adding in some key speed & hill sessions!

While your weekly long run is vital for endurance & getting your body used to the ‘pounding of the pavement,’ speed training is beneficial in many ways…

passion to push

  • helps build stamina that will allow you to run faster and stronger (who doesn’t want those benefits?)
  • improves running form
  • increases your VO2Max (helps with energy production)
  • helps you PUSH through mental barriers of doubt & discomfort ~ you CAN keep going!
  • is a fat-blasting, metabolism-boosting workout! Bonus, yay!

There are many different types, some with funny names…Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 2.32.57 PM

  • Fartlek [speed+play] – accelerate when you feel like it, then back off when you want… have fun with it!
  • Interval Training – vary speed/intensity for a set amount of time, followed by a recovery period .  Think ~ jog 2 minutes, sprint 1 minute, repeat 5 times.  For a hard one, try Bart’s Yasso 800‘s training plan… 10 = ouch!
  • Tempo Run – warmup followed by a sustained effort run (typically at or just under 10K pace) finished with a cool down.  Runner’s World suggested tempo distances are 2+ miles for 5k training, 4+ miles for 10K, 6-8 miles for the half and 8-10 for the full marathon.
  • Hill Work – hill repeats or running rolling hills – help increase leg strength.  Most people hate them!


How often should I do speed training?

  • Beginning runners – build your base mileage and “healthy” running regimen before you introduce speed.
  • Intermediate runners – choose one day (we do Tuesdays) to alternate the various types of speed work each week.  Then allow yourself recovery time before doing another ‘hard’ day.
  • Advanced runners – the elites typically have two-three speed drills per week.  A common schedule has intervals/hills on a Tuesday, then tempo on a Thursday.

On a final note, may as well make this a life lesson too 🙂

Speed work can teach you ‘how to keep going when the going gets tough’ which can be applied to running, but also life in general.  One of my favorite quotes about running comes from [one of my favorite actors] Will Smith…


Will Smith’s Key to Life #1 – Running:

When you’re running and that voice in your head that starts saying to you, “slow down, your ankles are hurting” tries to get you to stop, that’s when you keep on running and breakthrough.  When you learn to defeat that person inside that tries to get you to stop, you can defeat anything that stands in front of you. Anything that’s blocking your way toward your true purpose, destination and goal.

Watch his video clip HERE!

For more on speed training, visit our ‘source’ sites…

Photo credits to… 




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