Speed Workouts for Marathon

Less than 30 miles/week and No Workout experience

Note: Best place to do these workouts is at your local track. One lap = 400 meters. Below are the speed workouts best suited for the runners in this category.

Workout Description
10×400 meters 10 x 400 meters at your goal marathon pace minus 20 secs/mile (MP-20). Between each of the faster 400 meters, recover by jogging a slow 400 meters. Complete 10 of the faster 400’s. For the recovery, make sure you are jogging, no matter how slow.
5×600 meters 5×600 meters (1.5 laps) at MP-20 secs. Between each of the 5 hard intervals, jog 400 meters (1 lap).
4×800 meters 4×800 meters (2 laps) at MP-20 secs. Between each of the 4 hard intervals, jog 400 meters easy.
3×1000 meters 3×1000 meters (2.5 laps) at MP-20 secs. Between each of the 3 hard intervals, jog 400 meters easy.

These are the four workouts that you will get the most bang for your buck. Any shorter, and the amount you are running hard just won’t be enough training stimulus. If the distance of the intervals were longer, let’s say up to 1200 meters or 1600 meters, then the interval distance is getting into a grey zone of training and not stimulating the adaptations we are looking for.


Marathon Speed

Under 30 miles per week WITH previous experience

Workout

Description

10×400 meters

10×400 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog recovery. Early season, can do goal marathon pace minus 20 seconds per mile (MP-20). Jog the recovery!

5×600 meters

5×600 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog recovery. Early season, can do goal marathon pace minus 20 seconds per mile (MP-20). Jog the recovery!

4×800 meters

4×800 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog recovery. Early season, can do goal marathon pace minus 20 seconds per mile (MP-20). Jog the recovery!

3×1000 meters

3×1000 meters @ @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog recovery. Early season, can do goal marathon pace minus 20 seconds per mile (MP-20). Jog the recovery!

3×1200 meters

These are the four workouts that you will get the most bang for your buck. Any shorter, and the amount you are running hard just won’t be enough training stimulus. If the distance of the intervals were longer, let’s say up to 1200 meters or 1600 meters, then the interval distance is getting into a grey zone of training and not stimulating the adaptations we are looking for.


Marathon Speed

30-60 miles per week

Majority of people following our programs are in this range! You’ve probably seen these workouts before, but for sake of consistency, here they are again:

Workout Description Variance
12×400 12×400 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meters jog recovery.

Early season, 10k pace may be better. Adjust to 5k pace later on. Still easy? Cut the rest to

200 meter jog.

8×600 8×600 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog recovery. Same.
6×800 6×800 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog recovery. Same.
5×1000 5×1000 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog recovery. If too hard, increase rest to 600 meter jog. Otherwise, same as above.
4×1200 4×1200 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 jog recovery. Same as the 5x1k
3×1600 3×1600 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 jog recovery Tough one! Not much adjustment needed here.

Notes: Ideally, you should keep your reps in the 2-6 minute range. With that said, 3×1600 may not be the ideal workout for you. Use the workouts that are best suited for your development!

Also consider our fartlek guide to give yourself a break from the track.


Marathon Speed

60-90 miles per week

You folks are at a point in your training that you can take the volume up a bit with the training stimulus. You probably need to run more intervals to get your mileage in, too!

Here are some variations of speedwork based on your new volume:

16×400 16×400 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog. Can also break it up into 2 setsof 8 with an 800 jog after the 8th400. Or, can cut the rest to 200 jog and go straight through.
10×600 10×600 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog Same
8×800 8×800 meters with 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog. Same
6×1000 6×1000 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog Can increase recovery jog to600 meters, but don’t break into sets
5×1200 5×1200 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog Same
4×1600 4×1600 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog. Tough workout. No adjustment needed
4-8-12-16-12-8-4 400-800-1200-1600-1200-800-400 @ 5k-10k pace with 400 jog between each Can cut rest to 200 between the400 and 800. Can do 400 and800s at 5k pace and rest at 10k pace for variety

Most likely, when running this mileage, you aren’t following the same structure of the Hansons Marathon Method and are doing a shorter training block. These workouts may be best suited for doing mixed in during training, not doing them in successive weeks.


Marathon Speed

90+ miles per week

Even at 120-140 miles per week, the volume of the marathon speed would stay in that 5-6 mile range. Going more than that makes to total volume for the session quite high, even with the higher mileage.

Workout Description Variances
20×400 20×400 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 jog recovery 5(4×400) with 800 jog after each set of 4. Could also decrease the rest to 200 for each 400 within the set of 4.
10×800 10×800 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog recovery Not much adjustment needed for this workout.
8x1k 8×1000 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 jog recovery. Can increase to 600 meter recovery in early season.
6×1200 6×1200 meters @ 5k-10k pace with 400 meter jog recovery Same
5×1600 5×1600 meters @ 5k to 10k pace with 400 jog recovery. If you do this sprinkled in during a marathon block, consider increasing recovery to 800’s.
4-8-12-16-16-12-8-4 400-800-1200-1600-1600-1200-800-400 @ 5k-10k pace with400 jog recovery Tough workout, no adjustment. Keep recovery the same even at shorter distances, you’ll be better off during the longer intervals.

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