Speed sessions serve a multitude of benefits. These include physically preparing the body for the stresses and effort that it will encounter during a race. Mentally, they show the athlete that they can run at speed and train the mind to deal with the discomfort that comes with it.
The following speed workouts can all have their respective distances and/or paces modified to suit your goals and fitness level. And do not forget to always begin and end every speed session with a proper warm up and cool down!
Made famous by former marathon record holder, Rob De Castella. The workout is quite simple. You execute eight 400m repeats at your fastest maintainable pace, a bit faster than your 5k pace. Quick, but not all out. The recovery, if you can call it that, comes in 200 meter segments between each 400m. There is a catch however! These 200 meters are not a light jog, but just slightly less effortful than the fast periods.
8x400 meters “fast” + 200 meters “moderate”
This workout, which comes to 4800 meters, can be used as a good predictor of your current 5000m time.
This is a time based speed workout, so these can be done on any type of surface. The format is:
2x 90sec fast + 90sec moderate
4x 60sec fast + 60sec moderate
4x 30sec fast + 30sec moderate
4x15sec fast + 15sec moderate
If you know how many steps per minute you generally take, you can simply count steps instead of actually looking at your watch. 90 steps per minute? Count 45 steps for the 30 sec repetitions.
This workout will help strengthen your ability to run at or near race pace. The goal is to progressively shorten each repetition distance while increasing the pace.
4800m at 90% of your 5k goal pace
3200m at 95% of your 5k goal pace
1600m at 100% of your 5k goal pace
Speed & Economy
Very quick and short repetitions are often used to help your body learn good biomechanics. A basic example of such a work is 10x300m at 105%-110% of your 5k goal pace, with 300m easy jogging between repetitions.
This one will leave you sore the next day, so perform it sparingly. Between repetitions of anywhere from 400-600m near your 5k goal pace, do sets of different strength movements. These can include lunges, body-weight squats, one legged deadlifts, and rocket jumps.While these are not terribly difficult by themselves, if you perform 8 repetitions of running with 10 reps of each strength movement between them, that is 80 lunges, 80 squats, 80 deadlifts, and 80 rocket jumps!
What is one of your favorite speed sessions to do?