speed work advice

I posted this on someone elses thread and then realised I should have started a new one. So please don't think I've gone mad posting it in two places.

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.


  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Hilly, what you're doing seems ok. Good pace and a sufficient recovery period to allow you to complete the full session.

    Suggestions: Rather than always doing the 1 mile reps you could alternate between 1200m reps, off 2:15 recovery or 800m off 1:45 recovery (experiment with the recovery periods). You're overall pace should be higher but the effect will be similar due to the shorter recovery period.

    You could also add a session of 200m or 400m off quite long recoveries - this teaches your body to adapt to and to run at a faster pace. This isn't really a "hard" session as the recovery periods are quite long but you do run at a much faster pace.
  • Hilly,

    I remember seeing your other post but can't remember if I responded to it. If I did, I hope what follows doesn't contradict what I said last time!

    I don't think there's anything wrong with the session you refer to, but if it's the only speed/speed endurance session you do, maybe you should look at something else as well. You sound as though already the session is starting to pall on you.
    I was in a not too dissimilar situation to yourself up until quite recently, in that all my "speed sessions" were in fact "speed endurance sessions" (either 4 x 1 mile or 2 x 2 miles). Mentally it was becoming quite difficult to get "up" for them.
    Just to provide some refreshment, I needed to do something different, and was happy to follow MartinH's suggestion of a "faster than race pace" session i.e. one focussed more on speed than speed endurance.
    This features shorter, faster efforts and longer or less strenuous (i.e. walking rather than jogging) recoveries. I did one such tonight - a "make it up as you go along" mix of 800s and 400s - see "Thursday session" for details.
    Why not try something similar? say, 800s in 3:10 to 3:15 and/or 400s in 1:32 to 1:35. Not only will it give you a bit of variety in your speed training, it'll also get your legs used to moving just a bit faster. This in turn might make those mile reps a bit easier....

    Just a suggestion....
  • Hilly

    I agree with Mike - but would add that the balance depends very much on whether your focus is on improving your 10k time or the half marathon time (or more likely all?) i.e. if you want to improve your 10k time then you need to be generating the speed to run sub 6:30 minute miles i.e. more of the 4's and 8's - for the half the focus is more stamina than speed. In relaity then you will have to alternate one week of short intervals and one week of long.

    What has historically worked well for me is two speed sessions a week, one based on short intervals (up to 1000 metres) and one based on tempo (i.e. 20-30 minutes at half marathon pace) and if you can handle two speed sessions a week this may be the way to go.
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Mike, Martin,

    What are your views on doing a session of say 6 x 400's off long recoveries on what should be an easy day as it's not a session that takes a lot out of you? or adding such a session after a longish run?
  • Drew,

    at what sort of pace?
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Fast as possible!
  • literally? i.e. at 400m race pace??
    You wouldn't find that an easy session I'm quite sure! Even with long recoveries.

    My guess is that for 6 x 400 to feel reasonably easy with generous recoveries, you'd need to be doing them at somewhere round 1500m pace.
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Mike, I'll try it out sometime soon to see what happens. Thanks
  • Drew,

    Would be inclined to agree with Mike S re the target pace..

    In the summer on the track we would do 6*400m full out with about 8mins rec.. This is far from easy, and is probably one of the hardest sessions we did - lactic overload....
    To run as an easy session 1500m/mile pace with 5mins rest should work.

    For me the times would be based on 50s pb, 54/55 for the first session and 60s for the second..
    To make the session different, could try running the 400m in segments - e.g running relaxed to 200m, then running hard over the last 200m - so for a 70s lap, running 37/33. Introduces changes of pace etc..
  • Hilly,
    Your times are close to mine (10k 42.03/10mile 69.04/halfM 1.36.03) and I do a combination of reps:
    12*400m at 5k pace (around 15-16kmph/9.5-10mph) with 90sec recovs
    8*800m at 5k pace normally at 15kmph with 90 sec recovs
    4*1 mile at 10k pace with 2 min recovs
    or 3*2 mile at 10mile pace with 2 min recovs.

    Also depending on what I'm training for determines whether its longer or shorter reps (so in the build up to a 10k I'd do mostly 400m reps,but for halfMs I'd do mainly 800m-mile reps)

    I also am a big advocate of tempo runs at (or close to) halfM or 10m pace - around 7min-7min15 miling.
    Generally I try to do the reps on a Tuesday and the tempo on a Thursday or at the very least try to get both done on a weekly basis.

    I have found that this does leave me shagged out but over the past month I've sometimes forsaken the Wednesday hour recovery for a rest day and this seems to have improved my racing.

    I only started doing reps in earnest about two years ago,and have stuck to it.In that time my 10k time has come down from 47mins, and my half time from 1.45, so it must be doing some good.

    I've also started doing a mixed session (see todays session on this forum) whereby I do an hour including a pyramid of 4mins at mara/halfM/10m/10k/5k/5k/10k/10m/halfM/mara pace with 1 min recovs with 5min slow warmup/down. This is quite tough as at my(our) paces,4mins is between 800-1000m, so 10 tough reps.Also with only 1min recovs it can be fairly exhausting.
    Sorry for waffling on but I appreciate the tips on this subject.

    Happy Running.
  • Hilly - hope this doesn't sound harsh but I think you're not going to get a great deal out of those mile reps. If you can race 10k in 42 mins you're doing 6:50 per mile - 6x1mile with no recovery. So, 3x1mile in 6:38-42 with 3mins recovery should be relatively comfortable. Not quick enough to help with 10k time, and not enough of them to help with 1/2m times.

    Similar to Dustin above, I would suggest 4 x 1mile at 6:40-5 with 1min recovery or 4 x 1mile at 6:25-30 with 2 mins recovery. Plus, a tempo run of a around 30mins at just above 1/2m pace. (Not on the same day obviously!)

    12-16x400m at 5k pace is always a good
    one for practically any runner at any distance.
  • Thank you all for your input. I've read each answer with inerest and think I will try something a little different. I intend to try the 400's at 5k pace, 90 secs recovery and 4X1mile at a faster pace with shorter recovery. I'm not sure if I can manage 2 speed sessions a week, but will give it a go.

    I do another session over a 7 miles course of 3 mins fast, 3 mins jog recovery. I've not done this for a while, but think I'll bring it back into by training.

    Thanks again and happy running all!
  • Drew

    What are you trying to achieve with the shorter session? If its lactic acid tolerance then I would probably go for a hill session as opposed to track work to get the same effect.

    Running 400's fast as possible on the track sounds like a recipe for injury.
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