Intervals for Marathon Training

I'm looking at introducing some intervals into my training. My currently PBs are 10k in 50mins, Half in 1:50, 10mile in 1:22. While my Marathon times have been 4:35 and 4:50 for Rutland Water and New Forest Marathon respectively I don't believe they're representative of my true marathon potential due to weather conditions, terrain and underestimating the task ahead and going out too fast on the day. Ouch!

Speedwork up to now has mainly been tempo runs of around 4miles at 8:00/mile during a 10mile run.

I think I need to add some intervals but there's not a lot of consistent advice on the web. Although there are lots of training programs.

Am I right in thinking I shoudl be doing 4 to 6 1mile repeats at around 7:00/mile with 3 min recovery? Seems to be a fair amount of programs suggesting this every 3 weeks or so.

Should I be adding 400m and 800m to that? How many, what pace?

I'm thinking of a typical week being. 4mile recovery, rest, 10mile tempo, rest, intervals, easy 4mile, LSR 13-20mile.


  • I used to do Yasso 800s - read up on them.

    Once I'm fitter I move onto doing mile repeats - 6 x 1 mile with a couple of minutes rest in between. The speed gets faster week by week.

    I dont think i'd bother with a 4 mile run - you'll spend 3/4 of the time just warming up. I'd run 6 miles minimum and I don't think I'd run 10 miles tempo - seems too much to me.

    There are so many ways to train - there isn't one definitive correct one.
  • Only 4-5 miles of the 10 are at tempo. 

    I've seen yasso800s mentioned a lot.

    6miles does seem a good distance. 

  • Do you do 6x1 intervals every week?

  • Aah -that makes much more sense then !

    I still think the 4 milers need to be longer though.
  • Yes. Me too image

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    I agree about making the 4 milers a bit longer.

    This year I have tried to mix my intervals up a bit

    Eg. Wk 1. 8x800. Wk2 6x1k Wk3 6x800m hill repeats then moving up to mile repeats neater to race time. Not sure how scientific it is but it stopped me getting bored.
  • How do you get to your suggested pace of 7 minutes per mile rep, Tim? According to McMillan, based on your 10k and HM times that's pretty close to your predicted 1 mile race pace - either you shouldn't be physically capable of doing 4-6 of those in a row or your other PBs are pretty soft...

  • Good point. I've not done any yet. I raced 10miles on Sunday. I measured a mile out and ran it last night to see how comfortable I felt. Not sure I could do 6 ofbthem, but 1 was fine on tired legs. No doubt I'll probably be closer to 7:20-7:30. All new to me so all points are welcome. Thanks.

    My race times are odd, I'm still learning. 

  • A lot depends on your goal.

    Early on in training I do threshold runs (20 to 40 mins, or up to 3 x 15mins with 5 min recovery)

    Then move onto VO2 intervals. The interval needs to be at over 2 mins to get your systems up to speed. Daniels recommends 2 to 5 mins for VO2. . 6 x 1200m with 2min recovery is a common workout for me.

    Shorter intervals are more focused on running form/economy/speed. Personally I don't do them as it shreds my muscles to ribbons late on in training, so they have no place in my marathon plans. In fact I'm not overly keen on strides as well.

  • So maybe at my pace 8x 1km might be better than 6x 1M ?

  • My approach is shaped by Daniels' -

    If you are running these for VO2max purposes (you didn't say the purpose) , then mile reps becomes more and more stressful the slower the runner (all runners should be running them at 95 - 100% of VO2max for a VO2max  workout). The slower runner putting in the same effort would spend significantly more time stresing their VO2max, will likely accumulate blood lactate, and reck the rest of the session (unable to complete all reps, or running too slow).

    Spending too much time stressing your VO2 max is also likely to impact on the other training sessions. 6 x 1mile might be too many reps for slower runners. I use the Daniels rule of making the intervals 3 to 5 mins, and for me 1200m is ideal.

    There are other types of intervals / repeats sessions, and mile reps may be entirely sesnsible for them. Knowing the purpose and intensity they are being run at is needed. I'm a bit of a reluctant debutant into intervals. Decent marathon times have been achieved without them, but my short game needs some work on!


  • Thanks, sounds sensible.

    Using Sunday's 10mile time, and I think it may well be 'soft', McMillan gives vV02 of 6:58 and vLT 8:02.

    I think I'm on track. I'm going to try to push for a sub 1:45 half in November and I think going on how I felt after Sunday's race I'll be happy with anything below 1:47.

    What are the other types of interval used for?


  • For threshold, I do a single block 4 - 7 miles, or sometime break it into 3 x 15 mins with 5 mins recovery.

    Faster  than the VO2 intervals is the 'Repetition' sessions   (Daniels' makes a clear distinction between Intervals and repetitions). The repetitions are run at a faster pace and the focus is more on mechanics and anaerobic metabolism. Fast reps, long recoveries, learning to run fast relaxed (think 200m / 400m type duration).

    Hill Repeats and Cruise Repetitions are also covered in Daniels. Cruise repetitions would be a good session for marathon training - this could include the mile repeats but at yout vLT pace, and longer recoveries than a VO2max session.  

  • Thanks. Couldn't run on Wednesday due to real life getting in the way.

    Ran an 'easy' six miles last night. I've never included any 'easy' runs before and think I may well add a few more of these in place of rest days. They're refreshing and I feel good this morning. Normally the 4 milers are done as a speed session so my plan is taking shape nicely. 

    Hopefully I'll do my first interval session tonight and then another easy 6 in the morning before dawn. 

  • Had a go at 6x1000m @7:15. With 3mins walk as rest. Think 3mins is slightly too long, I feel ready to go again after 2mins. Takes about 1-2 mins until running feels hard then I hold it at pace for a couple more. 

    It's a good workout. I'll persevere with it for a few weeks see how it goes. 

Sign In or Register to comment.