Speed Sessions - How many

Hi guys,

I am just setting up my next 10 week training block for a half marathon and was wondering how many speed sesions should be included a week?

I have based my training on a plan from the RunnersWorld half Marathon book my partner got me.

The plan has me running  5 times a week (30-40miles increases as the weeks progress).

The plan has no 400m or 800m speed sessions like other plans do but instead sessions where you run at HMP for say 4 miles.

I would like to include the 400's & 800's and was wondering how oftern they should be done?  Every week?  Every other week?

Current PB is 1hr 29min and looking for 1hr 25 at some point.


Hope the above makes sense?



  • I like 1 tempo session and one interval session in my week if I can fit it in. If I was to prioritise one for the half marathon, then its the tempo session every time. I don't use a plan, but the bulk of running is steady mileage.
  • I get confused with tempo and interval sessions.

    Tempo is where you run at HMP for x miles


    Intervals are repeats of say 12 x 400m or 8 x 800 meters?

  • Hi Chris - its a bit ambiguous as some do run tempos such as 2 x 20mins.

    My tempo sessions are very straight forward and are run as follows:

    Warm up 1 - 2 miles

    Tempo Run, 4 to 7 miles

    Warm down, 1 - 2 miles

    I run them close to half marathon pace. It's tough but rewarding. It will help to raise the ceiling where you run aerobically, without swamping your body with lactic acid.

    Intervals are typically run quicker and are working on VO2 max. Often sprinty stuff for short speedy running and 'cruise intervals' for endurance events, e.g 6 x 1200m, or mile repeats.

    For me the tempo runs are what its all about and I slot one in weekly. I am more wary of intervals having pushed too hard in the past and risking injury.
  • Thats very helpful,  thanks very much.

  • No problem. Thats where I am up to, having started about a year ago. I am starting to do more intervals now, but I do higher mileage than this time last year, so perhaps I have developed / hardened up to the demands of intervals. I am more into marathons now, but if I was focused just on the HM the priority for me would be Long Run, Tempo, Medium Long Run, Intervals in that order, and then whatever mileage is left is just easy running.

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    Just to reinforce what Also-ran has said, for the longer distance (HM upwards) the tempo runs are more important than the intervals.

    I'm following a Pfitzinger & Douglas plan for VLM, and this ignores interval sessions for the first ten weeks, and then adds them in for the last few key training weeks prior to the marathon.

    This may be a better approach where you have one speed session per week, and focus on tempo runs of 4 to 7 miles at HM pace for around 8 weeks and then for the next four weeks do intervals.  Maybe alternating weeks of 400 and 800ms.

    Part of this is to mix up the sessions - its always more interesting when you're not continually repeating the same session 

  • I had a quick look back at my training last summer. I went from 1:28:xx to 1:24:xx based on steady mileage and the tempo sessions. Following on from that went to 1:22:xx in Sept. That was during marathon training where I had weekly tempo runs, and occassionally did some intervals.

    Stutyr's suggestion of doing a block of tempo runs, then sharpening up with some intervals for a few weeks sounds good, particularly where you don't do enough mileage to fit in 2 speed sessions per week.

  • This all sounds very good.  I like the idea of mixing up the tempo and interval sessions as well.  i will certainly have a think over the weekend when planning my next 10 week phase.


    Thanks guys

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