need advice on speed training

Hi all,

I decided to improve me 10K PB (46.10) so I started doing speedtraining about 6 weeks ago. I aim 4 X 1500 in 6.45 each. But somehow I cannot manage to pace myself properly. The usual pattern is the following:

I do the first 1500 m in 6.35 so I decide to slow down

Second 1500 m in 6.35 again, which hurts and I REALLY decide to slow down

Third 1500 m  -  hurts a lot, I feel that I am slowing down but when I check the time at the end: 6.25

Last 1500 m - I can hardly go, I want to stop, I think I will die so I slow down. My time: 6.30

As you see, I want to go slower, I think I am going slower, it REALLY hurts, yet I am getting faster. After each speed training session I decide that next time I will do it slower, yet I cannot make it. I would rather run 5 x 1500 m in 6.45 than 4 x 1500 in 6.35 but after the 4th rep I cannot even stand let alone do another 1500m.

I don't know how to pace myself. Am I doing something wrong? Am I going to do more harm than good if I carry on running to complete exhaustion.

Sorry for being long winded, but I would really appreciate some help.


  • Wow!

    good going
    You have actually been fairly consistant, just faster than you wanted to be.

    So how can you pace yourself?

    Start at a pace that feels slower than you want, and do one rep. check the time. If it is slower than you want, then do the next a bit quicker, and so on until you achieve the speed you want. Learn what that speed feels like.

    Get a training partner who is good at pacing themselves.

  • What's the issue with running this quickly?
  • Thanks for both replies. My issue is that I don't seem to be able to control my speed. As I understand speed training should  not mean running as fast as one can manage without dropping dead but

    "They're about controlling hard efforts and spreading your energy evenly over a set distance or time, just like you would in a perfect race" (RW)

    Also, I don't understand why I cannot slow down, even though I WANT to.

    Sorry, probably it's silly to analize my speed too much, maybe I am doing really well.

  •  Practice pacing at shorter distances then to get the hang of it. 200m and 400m. Either that or you need an iPod and Nike+ or a Garmin to tell you what your pace is on the fly!

    Anyway the point is, running this fast isn't ruining your consistency. All of your times fall BELOW a certain point. If you did 4 getting progressively slower with a massive drop-off for the last interval, you'd be having problems! But you aren't, it's very much the opposite. Which would suggest to me that the paces you've found now are ideal...

    ...I wouldn't risk TRYING to slow down. You might end up getting less benefit than you already are. Presumably the paces you are trying to match are from a schedule or calculator or something?

  • Thank you PF for the good advise, I like the idea of doing shorter distances and learn my pace that way.

    Actually my target pace is the result of a simple calculation: I aim for 45m 10K, which means 4.30 min/km, which translates into 6.45 min/1500m. I realize now that this calculation might be wrong and I underestimated my speed.

  • It's not that your calculation is wrong as such... just that you should be running a lot faster for 1500m repeats than your 10k pace.

    If i'm doing something like a mile time trial, i'll usually aim for under 5'10". This is far and away faster than even my 5k race pace, but the point is, its for a specific training effect. 

  • TRTR ✭✭✭
    Are you new to running or are you an experienced runner ?

    If you are new to running then leave the intervals alone and build up your running frequency and consistency first.

  • PF - thank you, I will rethink my target time. One more question (hope you don't mind). How would you describe the level of discomfort you have when you do your speed sessions?

    TR - I started running about 4 years ago so I am relatively new, but I completed 2 FLMs since and did a GFA time this year. I realized after this year's FLM that without serious speed training I won't ever improve  and I would loose motivation to continue running.

  • TRTR ✭✭✭
    I too started running about 4 years ago - but until 18 months ago I only ran 2 or 3 days/week. I too obtained a GFA at FLM this year (first marathon too), I dont buy that folks need to do speed training to improve especailly at marathon distance, I never did any and ran ok.

    Consistency of training is whats required, with the key sessions (progressive long run, midweek run and some MP miles).

    BUT, above all else you should be running cos you enjoy it and not fulfilling a schedule or doing sessions/runs that folks say that you should. So, if you want to do speedwork - then fill your boots, and enjoy yourself.

    Once you're a seasoned runner with tons of endurance and miles on the clock, then ways to squeeze out a few extra percent may be needed.
  • The level of discomfort during speed sessions for me is like... total! Borderline being sick. But there's something exciting about sprinting round 400m, even if it does hurt like hell. So I wouldn't do it unless I enjoyed it.
  • TR - I do enjoy my running and I enjoy the speed sessions, too because it keeps me motivated. Even though I love my running, I have my ups and downs sometimes and need a variety in my training. I would benefit from joining a running club, but I work long hours and I don't have a car to get to a club during the evenings. I live in Central London and the closest club to me is the Serpentine RC but I would prefer a smaller club.

    PF- I did a speed session this morning and it was a complete disaster. I decided to do 4 X 1500m in 6.35 min and take 2 min rest in between efforts (I rested 1min before). It went: 6.21/6.18/6.18 and couldn't manage the last one. So again, I went faster than intended, even faster than my previous speed traning efforts and felt so sick during the last effort that I had to stop. I feel like a complete failure. Next weekend is a 10K race and after I will do as you said and I will do shorter speed distances to learn my pace.

  • Edith - I wouldn't beat yourself up too much about running 'too fast' and not doing all the reps. I have a similar problem, but at the end of the day I figure some speed work is better than none, right? And you may find that your next 10k race goes better than expected. How do you find pacing in races? Do you go flat-out and hang on, or can you run even splits? I agree with Paul in that learning to pace over shorter distances helps a bit. The other option, of course, is to use a treadmill. They are perfect for speed work (their only plus point, really) as you can set the pace and run. You'll get a feel for the effort level and then, even if you run slower/faster outside, you'll at least know how tired you should feel....

    Or find some hills - they'll slow you down! image

  • BP - thank you, very reassuring. I usually do negative splits during races, even when it really hurts I get faster for the second half. Today is the first time actually that I failed to finish a session, probably that's why I am so disappointed with myself. I will definitely try shorter distances. The treadmill is not my thing, I get bored after a few minutes, also it seems easier to run on it.  I'd like to do hill training, too, but I cannot think of any hills in central london, the only incline around here is the way up to Chelsea Bridge.
  • Assuming you are running on a track, work out what each 100m should be, then adjust in the first few 100 to get the pace more accurate
  • OK, so speed training does work. I know that I am stating the obvious, but I didn't really believe that I will ever improve my 10K time (47.30 until this summer, 46.10 after a few weeks of speed training and 43.59 on today's race). Thanks for everyone who responded to this thread.
  • Well done!
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