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Speed Training 102

Speed Training 102

by Swag Hartel

In Speed 101, the concept of adding faster workouts to your running routine was introduced. Here we will introduce a few speed concepts and how to go about incorporating them into your run training.


Are generally run on a track, but do not have to be. Any stretch of safe, flat road, whether it is a loop or a straight out and back, will suffice.

These efforts are generally shorter in duration (from 200 meters to 1 mile), and of higher intensity than either fartlek or tempo efforts.

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Despite the rather unfortunate name, a fartlek session is a valuable free-form workout that incorporates periods of faster paced running for varying distances with periods of normal running. This workout is ideal for those without access to a track, and can be done on flat roads, hills, etc.

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A tempo run is generally a race pace effort lasting 3-6 miles.

While each of the above workouts will help you increase your speed, they are each beneficial for different reasons: The interval session can help to develop the overall top speed, while the fartlek session can help develop the aerobic capacity. The tempo run helps to develop your running strength and a sense of pace.

Generally, the shorter the race you are training for, the shorter (but more intense) the work and rest periods, while longer races such as a half-marathon or marathon would emphasize longer intervals and longer tempo efforts.

However, there are other factors involved including how long you have been running and your current fitness. If you are new to speed work, keep the intervals short, the rest periods longer, and the pace only a little faster than your current training pace. If you have been running for less than a year, you would be advised to wait a while before starting a speed program.

In any case, remember that a speed program will not show results overnight, instead the speed gains are experienced weeks or even a couple of months after you started. So be patient and consistent.

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Swag Hartel is a former British world-class runner and sub four-minute miler. Swag has logged over 52,000 miles of running in his lifetime and has earned a reputation as one of the truly elite runners in the state of Kentucky.

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