The Need For Speed: It's Your Choice

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Do I need to do speed work when training for a marathon?

The Need For Speed: It's Your Choice

Many marathon training plans call for speed workouts as a way to build strength. That's fine, and you may run a faster marathon if you do speed work as part of your training, but the strength you build by cross training delivers similar benefits if tempo runs or intervals don't appeal to you. If your marathon goal is to finish, the most important thing you can do to train is simply to run, at a comfortable pace, most days a week, and to get that long run in once a week.

If you enjoy running interval workouts on a track and you regularly do speed workouts with fellow runners, it won't hurt your marathon training, but don't do strenuous workouts two days in a row. Your muscles need time to recover. Some advanced marathon training plans call for more than one speed workout or tempo run per week. If you are following this type of plan, be sure to factor an easy day between the speed days.

For example, do your speed workouts or hill workouts on Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday, and run some easy, short runs or cross-train on the alternate days. If you do a tempo run on Monday, run an easy 4-8 miles on Tuesday, and that's a good day to do some weight lifting. If you are doing one speed workout or hill workout in a week, try to do it on Tuesday or Wednesday so you have time to recover before your weekend long run.



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