Welcome to another edition of Running Coaches’ Corner! This is a sweet link up hosted by Susie, Rachel and Debbie [and yours truly] where we talk about tips, tricks and everything in between to make you a faster and better runner!

This week wraps up our theme for March, where we talked about March Madness. So, to add to the madness —> let’s talk about speed work!

Speed work is such an important part of any training plan, especially if you are trying to become a faster runner. I cut 20 minutes off my marathon time mostly because I added some tempo runs and track workouts. 

Since then, I’ve been slacking it up (excuse: It was too hard to do track workouts in NYC — lame, I know — all NYC runners can throw me under the bus in the comments) and have JUST started getting back into it. 

Meaning, I did my first track workout this week in probably a year and a half. And it was hard, sweaty and absolutely amazing. 

Crazy Running Girl | Track workout

I did Yasso 800s, which are a series of 10 800m runs, and are said to predict your marathon time (you take the average minute:seconds of the 10, and that average predicts that you will run a marathon if you take the minute = hour and seconds = minutes. So a 3:42 average for 800s, would mean you would run a marathon in 3 hours and 42 minutes).

Note: You cannot (I mean, you can, but it’s not proper) say that you ran Yasso 800s and only do 4, 5 or any other number that is not 10. 

So, what happened? 

My splits were:


Which means I had an average of 3:38. 

It’s not the sub-3:30 I’m looking for, but it definitely is a good start since I have 12 weeks to work! I can’t wait to see how these numbers change over the next few weeks. 

I strongly believe that speed work makes the dream work. After all, I have experienced this first hand. I think that track workouts can be a little overwhelming. You can feel like everyone is going to stare at you, that you aren’t fast enough, that you don’t deserve to be at the track. But, take a deep breath, and just DO IT. 

Speed work makes the dream work


So, how do you find a track?

Here in Austin, TX, most middle school tracks are open to the public outside of school hours and when there isn’t an extracurricular activity. In my hometown in Wisconsin, it’s no problem to find a track (there’s one in the town and it’s open to the public with no fencing or locks), but it’s a bit different in the city. Check out Google and even call some local schools to figure out the details. Your local running stores will have recommendations, too!


How do you create a speed workout? 

You can find great recommendations online, but you can literally do whatever you want! If you don’t want to go to the track, you can do a fartlek or a tempo run. 

On the track, my favorites are:

  • Repeats: Pick a distance and repeat for a number of times (e.g., Yasso 800s). For marathon training, the shortest I’ll go is 400 and usually will build up to a mile. Shorter distance races means you can do shorter distances. How many should you do? Pick a number and try it out. You can always modify as you go!
  • Ladder workouts: I seriously love ladders for speed work! Basically, you pick a series of distances and build up and down, like you’re climbing a ladder. Here’s an example:


  • Intervals/sets: A combo workout of repeats and ladders, basically you pick a few distances (200-400-800) and repeat the sets a number of times (say 3). I love these for their variation… it’s always nice to have a 200 mixed in there to make you feel super speedy. 


What do you need for a speed workout?

Basically, your running clothes, running shoes, some tunes (if you choose) and water! I also like to wear my Garmin because… numbers are fun to analyze. I do switch up my running shoes on the track too — instead of wearing my Brooks Running Glycerins, I opt to wear the Launch 3 because they still give me lots of cushioning but are lighter, which is always a bonus when you are running fast. 


What else do you need to know about speed work?

Have patience! Speed work is hard, which is probably the real reason why I haven’t done it for a few years. It pushes you mentally and physically. But when you finish a speed workout? It feels SO good. You feel a little like you conquered the world, and that feeling stays with you when the going gets tough come marathon day. 

After all, speed work makes the dream work. 🙂


Do you do speed work on a regular basis? What type of workouts do you like best?

Any other advice/thoughts on how to be successful at speed work? 

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