Can anyone recommend a good speedwork programme for a half-marathon?

Speedwork's probably the training session I know the least about. At the moment I'm doing 4x1 mile at goal race pace, which A. Probably isn't enough distance, and B. Not fast enough.

So can anyone recommend me some tried and tested sessions for the half? Thanks image


  • Do you really need speedwork? Really?
  • Well, I think it would help.....
  • I am currently doing 2 x 2 miles @ 10k pace for my half marathon training, am planning on increasing it over time.

    As for the question of "needing" speedwork, not sure, but its helped me get faster over various distances.

  • Well, speedwork DOES have a tendency to make you run faster. I'm not doing it a laugh you know.
  • Speed work *can* make you faster. But a half marathon is not a sprint event, its an endurance event and you are mostly going to get faster by becoming aerobically fitter. You are therefore more likely to want to improve your endurance by running longer distances.

    How many miles are you currently doign a week? What is your long run looking like? What is your current time and what is your target?

  • I'm doing about 35-40mpw at the moment - LSR of only 12 miles but I'll be pushing that up to about 14 soonish. I'm aiming for a 1'35 at Silverstone in March, coming down from a 1'42 at the GSR in September.

    I know that tempo runs will help you most to increase speed in halfs, but I just thought that speedwork would be beneficial as well, that's all.
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    Indeed, speedwork can and does help your performance up to and including marathon distance, so it's a reasonable question.  Of course, if you've got a really underdeveloped aerobic base, then lots of easy miles might be the way to go but from your times you're clearly not just a plodder.  Apart from endurance, your VO2 max (to some extent) but especially lactate threshold will have a big influence on your HM fitness.  Plus, for any distance getting used to running at target pace has obvious benefits.

    4 x 1M @ race pace is a good start but you can certainly increase the volume and/or speed.  I'd consider doing these at closer to 10k speed, or instead do something like 3 x 2M @ target pace, then increase this to 4 x 2M @ HM pace.  3 x 2M @ 10k pace is a tough session but if you drop it to HM pace you should be going the other side of lactate threshold, so higher volume will be possible.

    If you're just doing one speed session a week (probably sensible bearing in mind your mileage/target) maybe alternate weeks where you do above-target pace (to work on LT/VO2 max) with target-pace speedwork, e.g.

    wk 1 - 3 x 2M or 4-5 x 1M @ 10k pace, or 6-8 x 800m @ 5k pace
    wk 2 - 4 x 2M @ HM pace or continuous tempo run, incl. 5M @ HM pace

    Going slightly over distance for LR as you're planning is also a good idea.

  • I'm not so sure speedwork is the answer... tempo runs maybe?
  • Thanks a ton Phil - I'll be sure to try them out sometime.

    Squall - I am a great believer in tempo runs increasing half times - something to do with pace in relation to lactic threshold, I'm not sure of the science exactly. I do do a 6 mile tempo run a week though, which will be increasing to 8 or so sometime soon. I just want to see if speedwork will equally as beneficial.
  • If you have 8 quid to spare, get on Amazon and get yourself the Run less, Run faster book (Furman Institute).  It's got lots of different training plans from 5k to Marathon and takes the guesswork out of what pace to use for speed sessions, how long, etc.   Basically a mix of intervals, tempo & long runs is the key to a successful half (in my book anyway).  I knocked 6 mins of my half PB earlier this year and hopefully some more at another half in November.

    Training plans and some of the key running tables are on their website (just google Furman FIRST)  but they haven't put it all on there as they want to sell the book image

    BTW, I'm not running less - I just do easy runs instead of the recommended cross training but I know quite a few people who have achieved amazing results by totally sticking to the Furman plan.

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