I hate Speedwork and Tempo Runs

I struggle to do them. The thing is, I want to improve on my time for a HM. Last year I came in at 2hrs36 This year I would like a sub 2.30.

Do they really improve times & endurance or anything image ?



  • Hey Lil - if you're struggling you're probably trying too hard for where you're at just now. 

    But yes - they do work and if you want to improve your time, sooner or later you'll have to try running a bit faster than you currently are. 

    Try doing your tempo runs at a pace that feels comfortably hard (somewhere between HMP but not quite 10k) and your intervals a bit quicker again.  As you get fitter you will find yourself able to go a bit quicker at each intensity without it feeling any harder.  If this still puts you off - start by doing the sessions even slower but just do them!  If you just run at one pace all the time - guess what pace you're training to run at? It's fine to do that BTW but don't expect to get quicker any time soon.

    Don't give up ... image

  • course you don't need to do them...just get some more steady miles in........if you aren't enjoying them you will not the best results anyway............

    for my marathon training last year i just ran miles and then tried to get to a park run once a week.........on that i ran faster than i normally would as it was in a race and others there..........get running some runs with others or a club to mix up the pace without realising

    good luck

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    You don't need to do them but it is unlikely you will improve your times much if you don't.

    Don't be fooled by the term "speed" work. It doesn't mean bombing round the track like Usain Bolt. It means going a bit faster than you usually do, a bit out of your comfort zone. At the end of a tempo or interval session you should be feeling pleasantly pooped, you definitely should not be a wheezing, puking heap.

    So if your "plod" pace is 10-min miling, try doing a tempo at, say, 9:30. And adjust as necessary.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Well they work for guys/bloody freaks like me who run 1:35 for a HM as a steady/easy run. Most people would benefit from just chugging along at an easy effort for as long and often as possible. In fact, most people would go faster if they were more flexible. If you want to know how flexible, think in terms of putting the flats of your hands on the ground while standing with straight legs. That's the hamstrings sorted then.

  • Thanks everyone. I will carry on. I Can do it. Will just slow the Tempo/speed runs down a fraction for the next couple of weeks and build up. You have helped. x

    Not entirely sure what your saying RicF. Well done on the 1:35 though ??

    Muttley - I have been fooled by the term 'speedwork'. Came home today and felt crappy. My race pace to get a sub 2.30 HM is 11.20 and the schedule said 9.38 for 1600 x 2 with 800 recoveries.Total = 5 miles. I was Pooped....

  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    6 mins off a half marathon is 30secs a mile faster. You should be using training paces based on your current 2:36 NOT 2:30! That's assuming you're still capable of 2:36.

    Personally I did only long slow runs for a year. 2x10miles and a 13mile a week. You will see your times plummet.

    Run your LSR at 1m-1m30s slower than your current race pace.
  • McFloozeMcFlooze ✭✭✭
    Yeah but you did it, Lil! And I bet you feel well proud if yourself too. Next time it will feel a bit easier. And if nothing else it makes the easy runs feel easier.

    Tim - not sure I agree with you. Slower runners mostly train close to race pace as 12-13 mm are not really going to be comfortable or helpful. Just do the LSRs at a nice conversational speed and don't worry about pace.
  • McFlooze wrote (see)
    Yeah but you did it, Lil! And I bet you feel well proud if yourself too. Next time it will feel a bit easier. And if nothing else it makes the easy runs feel easier.

    Tim - not sure I agree with you. Slower runners mostly train close to race pace as 12-13 mm are not really going to be comfortable or helpful. Just do the LSRs at a nice conversational speed and don't worry about pace.

    Agreed. 2:36 is already close to 12mm. 13:30 min miling would be daft.

  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    Yes. If that 2:36 was from a sustained 13 mile effort with no walking towards the end.
  • TIM - Effort all the way..No walking..Slower by mile 11-13 but no walking..

    McFlooze - I do feel good, yes you're right. Thank you. I do hope the runs get to feel easier each week by doing the speedwork/tempo runs.

                                 *Heres to getting that sub 2:30 PB *

       Everyone has given such great / supportive & helpful advice ~ Thank You.

  • Hi Lil

    I would testify to the tempo/interval sessions improving pace. The key for you is to get the right intensity. There is no problem doing an interval session and feeling a bit tired afterwards - they are hard sessions after all.

    But if you are so tired that it affects your next run, i.e. you are not recovering in time, then it is a clear sign that the intensity of the session needs to be backed off - i.e. run slower. Go more with how you are feeling, and less on the hard numbers that a plan will recommend.

    Good luck with finding the right balance

  • A lot of people are saying it but the problem may have been that you are trying to run them to fast - the idea of an interval session is to do a session where you are running faster than normal for a set distance or time, recovering and then doing it again. If you are unable to finish the session invariably it is because you are running to fast to recover between intervals - 

    Rest assured loads of people dread the idea of speedwork, me icluded, but you feel really good when you have finished.

  • It's possible to improve speed by not doing speedwork - I've spent the last 8 months or so essentially logging miles and keeping speedwork to a minimum.  I run at about 70% of working heart-rate for most of my sessions and at that heart-rate I've improved my speed by several minutes per mile.  I've built a better aeribobic base, set PB's at everythign from 5K to marathon and I've not had the niggles  that I associate with speedwork.  We're all different and if you struggle with speedwork there's no harm in not doing it.  I'm a similar pace to you Lil (HM PB is 2:18)  so while I'm sure speedwork will help, there are other ways to improve.  Some people just don't want to go to a track and knock out 10x400m at 5K pace or whatever.  For me, running is meant to be fun and I'd rather do a 10-mile trail run than go to a track and do speedy stuff.  

  • I won't do intervals etc as it is more likeley for me to get injured from them and my body is too messed up without the extra strain............i did knock off loads form my time last year just putting in more miles and running the 5k park run twice a month...........My OH also does no speed work as has taken his marathon time to 3:18 depite being the wrong side of 50.......

    so whilst speed work definitely works for some...........it is not the only way to improve...........and to me the important thing is to enjoy your running and to stay injury free.........

    if you enjoy them or feel they benefit and you can avoid injury then they are brilliant

  • kaffeegkaffeeg ✭✭✭
    A good way of doing speed training is in the pool. I discovered this whilst training for my marathon and being forced into deep water running. I did threshold training in the pool to keep my mind focused, keep interested and vary it up a bit. Once I was back to running on land, I was all speedy. And now I prefer it to doing threshold training on land - maybe give it a go? It works, and is not as stressful on your body as doing it on land.
  • That sounds fun. I'll look into that, hope my local pool does it. Thanks.

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    Lil, what noone has asked, is how much running do you do a week?

    If you're doing too little mileage, I wouldn't even bother with tempos and speedwork until you have that base sorted out.

    I'd be surprised if you couldn't massively improve that half time, by simply adding easy mileage at this stage...

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    StevieG's addressed the elephant in the room at long last.

    I ran a 3:04 marathon having run nothing faster than tempo pace in training, but I was running 50mpw.  I'm not suggesting 50mpw as a target, but I didn't even think about doing speedwork until I wanted to get my shorter race times down. 

    So how much mileage are you doing at the moment?

  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    Indeed. I thought I said that on Thursday?
  • I got my marathon time down from 3:53 to 3:16 by doing a lot of slow miles (60-70 miles a week) and the very occasional tempo run but my feeling is I'll need to get serious about my tempo/ intervals to get that time much lower.

  • Hi - I'm only on week2 of my 14 week HM plan. So currently my weekly mileage is :14 With the LSR at 6mi for tomorrow. The maximum weekly mileage is 25 on week 12.

    I got the plan from Smart Coach on RW. I was going to go with a Hal Higdon HM plan but in the end thought it wasn't pushy enough. Maybe I should change back.image

  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    Why have you dropped back down so far on your LSR? Have you stopped running for a while?
  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    Lil, ok, a more pertinent question then is what were you running for your 2:36? Presumably that was off running what you fancied with not even the structure of the Smart Coach type plan?

    I'm sure that schedule will see you beat 2:36 fairly comfortably.

    After that, simply increasing the easy pace mileage higher will see that time plummet. Comes down to how much free time, patience and keeness you have really.

    You have plenty of scope until you get to the point where you're smashing yourself to take buttons off.


  • McFloozeMcFlooze ✭✭✭
    Just to play devils advocate. I totally agree that bags of improvement can be made here simply by building up mileage but also think that psychogically it really helps to have done some faster paced running just so you know that you can. Maybe a weekly or fortnight tempo run is enough for this though. Perhaps at HM pace. And no more than 20 mins at tempo with a warm up and cool down added on.
  • Morning all, I hadn't stopped running just went out doing slower and less. (A LOT) I love to run. That and my motivation bucket is full to the top.image

    I wish I hadn't slacked off now though image

    Stevie G - Yes, running the GNR at any time to finish was all I wanted. I did train but only enough I guess, to know, I could run the whole thing. Which is why this year, I would like a sub 2.30.

    I shall increase the mileage & follow the plan (tweaking some bits) Have also noticed a Parkrun has just started in my area which is brilliant. I shall go each week to use it as my HM pace run

    Thanks x.

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    Lil, good stuff, in relation to the title of this thread, you clearly dislike the tempo and speedwork stuff because you haven't got the base to support them at the moment.

    With a better base, and doing the sessions to the correct paces for your current level (which presumably that plan gives you) you'll grow to find them more doable, and..perhaps even love them image

    Or at least love the feeling after.

  • TikkaTikka ✭✭✭

    Lil, this is is a great thread, I'm reading with interest so I hope you'll keep it going. 

    After a disastrous 2011 which included lots of time on the injury bench, I decided that this year I was going to forget pace and concentrate on running slow enough to avoid injury and frequently enough to build base.  Leaving aside the last few weeks which have been a bit rubbish because I sort of lost my mojo a bit and my mileage has dropped, I've been consistently running 5 times a week, with runs ranging from 5-8 miles, and an average of 40 miles a week.  I've been a bit dejected lately (which explains the loss of mojo) because although I'm pleased that I'm running lots and (touch wood) have avoided injury, I seem to be the exception to the rule that building mileage leads to increased pace.....I'm a lot slower than I was last year, and in fact seem to be getting even slower as the year goes on, to the point that I find it really hard to run outside my comfort zone even for a few minutes.  I'm torn between thinking: I need to challenge myself to run faster and start pushing myself harder, and: I don't want to get injured so I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and hope that eventually, by some miracle, it will all click into place and I'll get faster by default! 

  • Hi Tikka, Thanks for the kind words. I will keep an update going for the following 12 weeks training & the result image time...Yikes !!

    Reading your notes it seems you need to put a little fun back into your running to get your mojo back. Even so, you have a solid base and *well done* for that. Do you need to be faster ? Do you have friends to run with or Parkrun to go to? What about booking a race ? I hope you get that naughty mojo back from wherever its been hiding.image From time to time they need to have a break too...

  • good news about the parkruns lil.i bet after a few weeks you will be running them faster than your HM pace.they will become your tempo runs as you try and beat your time of the previous weeks........

    they really helped me image

  • TikkaTikka ✭✭✭

    That's good news, Lil, that you're planning to keep the thread running. image

    I think you've hit the nail on the head - I need to put the fun back into my running.  For the first few months of the year I was so happy to be back running again uninjured that I didn't care what speed I was running at, I was just grateful to be running.  Now that the initial euphoria has worn off, I'm starting to obsess about how slow I am, and the more despondent I get, the less I want to run.  Do I need to be faster?  No.  I want to be, but I don't need to be - so I'll remind myself of that from now on.  I'm only competing with myself!

    There are 4 parkruns within a 10 mile radius of my house so I have no reason not to do one.  What's stopping me is partly my lack of speed (I know it's not a race, but I'll be a lot slower than I was for 5k this time last year and it's hard not to compare), but also the fact that a 9.30am start is about 10 hours too early for me - I'm rubbish at running in the morning, I only ever run in the evening.  I really should do one though, so I'll put that on my 'to do' list for this year!

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