Simple Speedwork For People Who Hate Speedwork

Don't fear speedwork! Try incorporating this easy workout into your training and you will find you have a new favorite workout.


I don’t know why, but I really don’t enjoy speedwork. I think it has something to do with my heart feeling like it is going to explode, but I’m not totally sure. Before I hurt my back, I was working with a running coach and managed to PR at every distance from the 5k up to the marathon. And you know what? He had me doing speedwork. I will never forget the feeling of dread I had when I looked at my workout calendar and saw my first speed session. He wanted me to run how far how fast? Um, I think not.

As it turned out, my very first speed workout is still my favorite for two reasons: the intervals are not an overwhelming length, and I feel fast when I’m doing them! What is this magical workout? 400s!

400 meters is the equivalent of one lap around a standard track (like the kind found at your local high school) or about ¼ mile. It’s a distance where you feel like you’re working, but the pain ends quickly, and the idea of doing more doesn’t seem impossible. I tend to do my 400s at slightly faster than 5K pace, depending on what my goal is. While speed intervals, such as 800s or mile repeats, are recommended as being more appropriate for the longer distance races like half marathons and marathons, I personally believe that any speed work is better than none at all. You’ll get a little faster either way.

Therefore, if all your runs during marathon or half marathon training right now are being done at the same pace, try throwing some 400s in! Your workout might look something like this:

  • 1 mile warmup, 4 x 400 meters at 5k pace with 400 meter recovery jog in between each interval, 1 mile cool down.

That’s a simple, relatively short (4 miles total) workout that you can do during the week without completely collapsing. The 400s can be done on the track (1 lap around) or on the road (1/4 mile). I personally do mine on the road, but the choice is yours! Now, get out there and get those legs moving a little faster this week.