Q&A: Can Speed Workouts Help My Marathon Training?

How do speed workouts help me if I’m training for a marathon?

Completing a marathon is both a physical and mental accomplishment. A successful training program is one that not only adds miles each week, but also adds different stresses to your body, forcing it to adapt and work more efficiently to get you across that finish line without failure. This is where speed workouts come in!

There are three main reasons for incorporating these workouts into your training:

1. Speed workouts improve your running economy, or the amount of oxygen consumed at a given pace.
Think of running economy like fuel economy for your car. You want to get better gas mileage, so that you can run at the greatest possible speed using the lowest possible amount of energy. We all get more efficient at movements we practice, so speed workouts should lead to improvements in your running economy at faster paces.

2. Speed workouts also break up the monotony of training.
Logging all those miles week after week can sometimes put runners into a pace rut. Adding some intervals and faster workouts in the mix can help keep both your legs and your mind fresh.

3. And lastly, they allow you to log some miles at a pace that is faster than what your projected marathon pace may be.
Say your marathon pace is projected at 8:00 per mile. If you start adding in some short intervals at 7:30 per mile, that 8:00 per mile should start to feel easier come race day!

If you are training for your first marathon, or are an avid marathoner that has seen a plateau in your times, it may be beneficial to take a look at your program and add in some speed workouts.

As with any training, it’s important to be sure you are in good physical health to complete these higher-intensity workouts. You can always seek out a professional or a running specialist/coach on the most appropriate speed-training program for you!


Catherine Wysin

Catherine Wysin, PT, DPT is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Hospital for Special Surgery. She completed her undergraduate work at Hartwick College, and her graduate studies at Northeastern University. She was a collegiate volleyball player and former volleyball coach on both the high school and college level, but is now an avid runner. She has completed 10 half-marathons, numerous 5Ks and 10Ks, and will run her second TCS New York City Marathon this fall.  She is passionate about sports medicine, and treating orthopedic injuries in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. 

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