Speedwork - recovery times between intervals

I'm following the Runners World training schedule for the autumn half-marathons - I'm doing the Windsor one on 29/09. I'm managing to do most of the training sessions and have done all the speedwork, but I still find that I need longer to recover between intervals than the schedule says I should take. E.g. on Tuesday I did 6 x 800m at 5K pace, and was supposed to take 60sec between, but needed more than two minutes each time in order to be able to complete the next 800m. Also I often stop and walk instead of jog. Does this matter? Is my speedwork not so effective?


  • Hi Kerensa. Sad to see you had no replies to your question. I dont know if you have seen any of my postings,if you had you will know I am a great believer in speed work no matter what your event.

    So if you are still looking out for answers please get back and let me know what times you are doing in your sessions and what your best one off time for 800m is.

    Unless you have a very good level of fitness and have a good background for speed work ( well really this is not a speed work session, it is a speed indurance session and should be treated as such with recovery times. )you could find this quite a hard session Anyhow let me have more details about yourself and I will tell you what your recovery time should be. Also what Half Marathon time are you aiming for and your pb? Incidently do you use a HRM if you do details of this would also help.

    Look forward to your reply Ron.
  • Hi Ron,

    Thanks for the reply. I have only just registered on the site so haven't read many postings yet!

    The time I'm aiming for in the 1/2M is 2:15:00 or thereabouts - this is based on my best 10K time of 54:20 as per the training schedule in RW. My 5K pace is given as 8:15min/mile so I am running 800m in about 4 minutes or slightly more.

    This is my first 1/2M and I'm not a fast runner - I prefer longer, slower runs! My fitness level is OK, I wouldn't say I'm extremely fit though. I only really started doing speedwork as part of this training schedule - never had the motivation before! I do manage to get through all the speedwork sessions on the schedule as I realise how important it is, and can feel it making a difference to my running already, but the thing is that I always need longer to recover than the schedule says I should.

    Any comments welcome!
  • I'm no expert (I believe Ron is a proper coach), but I would guess that you are doing your reps at too fast a pace.

    The idea of speedwork is that you can do them all and the last is at the same pace as the first.A 54.20 suggest your 5k pace is around 8min15 miles so what your doing in terms of time is about right.
    However, I would suggest that perhaps you do them at a slower pace (10k pace?) to start with.I find that for halfM and marathons then it is somewhat beneficial to do longer reps , say 3*1mile at 10mile pace.

    No matter what sort of speedwork you do it is beneficial to your overall running as you've already noticed.Good luck at Windsor , see you there!
  • Hi Kerensa

    I had the same problem with exactly that session - I'm a week ahead of you as I'm aiming for New Forest. The other sessions I've found fine, including this weeks, but that one I just had real problems with. As I'm running different paces (aiming for 1:45, so my 5K pace according to the table is 14.2km/hr (can't remember what it is in minutes)), I htink maybe it's just that that session is really tough.

    I'd agree with Dustin, I feel that even if I didn't manage that session, just doing the speed session each week, has helped my running and I think will benefit me more than if I'd been doing another medium length run. But I'll find out on the 22nd!
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Kerensa, just to back up Dustin's comments.

    I do two types of intervals:

    1. hard and fast, with long recoveries, eg 10 x 400 off 2 minute recoveries.

    2. not so hard or fast, with shorter recoveries, eg 10 x 400 off 45 to 60 sec recoveries.

    The first type is aimed mostly at increasing your overall speed.

    Hope that's helpful, although it will be interesting to read Ron's input.

    The second type is aimed at increasing your speed endurance (as Ron says)

    Sounds like your going too fast during your efforts as the difference in pace can be quite high.

    For example during my speed session I aim to do my 400m laps in between 72 & 75 secs. In the speed endurance sessions the lap times would probably be between 78 & 82 seconds.

    I might add that both sessions are hard, but for different reasons.
  • Hi Kerensa.
    Thanks for the info. First a reference to the others.

    Dustin: yes your advice is about right.

    Doobs you should really try to achieve those: targets to do your Ihr 45min.but dont panic if you cant. But do try.

    Drew: I hope your comments have not frightened Kerensa!!! You are in a different league. I would expect you to be doing somewhere between 1hr 14min and 1hr 17min with training times like that,if not faster?? keep up with the sessions.

    Kerensa: There is no doubt that the 1minute recovery is far to short for you. You can do one of three things.

    Increase the recovery to 3minutes.

    Do them at a slower pace. Dustins suggestion to go at 10k and not 5k is fine, but I have the feeling that your 10k pace may not be much different to 5k? If this is so,do them at a pace you feel more happy with. I know this session should hurt a bit but at this stage at your level it is better to stay healthy,injury free and not get worried about the training.

    3:Or you can cut down to 4 x 800.or 5 x 600
    with 90sec recovery.It will produce the same training influence at your level.

    Hope this helps and good luck. Ron.
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Thanks for that Ron - the times you suggested are more likely next year!

    Kerenza - wasn't trying to frighten you, just show that the pace and recovery periods you choose are key to them being successful.

    The idea is to choose ones which let you complete your session. It's always good to do your last effort in a similar time to your first, although it always hurts more!
  • Hi guys,
    I posted last week on another thread (it got lost) about my mile reps and asked for advice as to if I was doing them too fast, taking too long a recovery etc to be the best kind of speed work for my aims.

    My aim in doing mile reps is to improve my speed endurance for races from 10k up to 1/2 marathon. I have a 10k time of 42mins, 10 miles at 71 mins and 1/2M at 1.36...I do my mile reps in 3.38-3.42, recovery is 3 mins. I've started with 3 but am hoping to build up to 5 over a six week period.

    Do you think this is the best way to maintain speed endurance or should I do something else. I don't always feel my speed work enhances my races, in fact I sometimes feel I leave my race on the training run. Any advice appreciated.
  • Hi Hilly.
    Mile reps in 3min38sec to 3min42sec ???? Thats great!! Do you mean 1000metre reps? or should the 3 be a 6 or 5?? If you can get back about this I will try to advice you.

    All the best Ron.
  • Hi all,

    Thanks for the advice - I will try the approach of doing the slower pace reps at the moment. E.g. the previous week's speedwork session on the schedule was 4 x 1m at 10K pace (for me that's 9:30min/mile or thereabouts) and I was happier with that, even though the reps were longer. The recovery time for that one was 2 minutes and I needed 3, but had I been doing only 800m reps I felt as though I could have got away with 1 minute or 90 seconds.

    At any rate it's good to know that it's not the end of the world if I don't stick slavishly to the schedule!
  • kerensa
    my knowledge is not nearly comparable with the advice you've been given already but i just wanted to say well done for persevering with the speedwork, it will pay dividends by making yur slower paced runs feel easier and increase your endurance.

    although i find the RW schedules great i personally think some of the speed sessions can be too demanding in terms of suggested pace and/or recovery, so don't think you're not achieving just because you need to adapt them to suit you. i followed the speed sessions for a sub 3.30 marathon although i was aiming for 3.15 (for this very reason) and ended up running 3.16, so have faith in yourself and in the rest of the schedule, you'll get there!!!
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