A cartoon of two runners going quickly on Speed Training for Trail Running

Speed Training

As a running coach I can tell you that speed is essential in all types of running, from road to trail and even in long distance races. As such speed training is an essential part of any runners training programme.

However, speed training, be it interval training or speed sessions, delivers more than just an increase in pace. It is also good for aerobic, threshold, endurance, and strength training. So if you are joining our Trail Running Holiday Pyrenees, adding speed training to your programme will really help you get the most out of the week.  

Most club level runners will include 1 or 2 speed sessions a week. One will be pure speed and another fartlek or tempo. Of course each type of session may include variations.

If you have not done speed training before then I highly recommend that you start. So what do you do, and how do you start?

My table below gives a number of different examples of speed training. Obviously, you may need to adapt them, depending on your current fitness level and experience. If you are new to speed training, then pick one you feel comfortable with, and use shorter repetitions at lower intensity, and with longer breaks. Also, make sure you warm up before each session, and include a warm down phase.

Speed Training

DistanceReps Rest
1km6-81-2 minutes
800m6-8Rolling on 5 min cycle. You should be getting 1:30 minutes rest between each rep. If not increase or decrease the cycle.
Varies83 minutes hard then 1 minute easy
6.8km9200m/400m/800m/1200m/1600m/1200m/800m/400m/200m
The break in-between each interval is half your interval time. So, if you did your 800's in 3:30 then its 1:15 mins break before you start the next rep.

A cartoon of a very tired runner on Speed Training for Trail RunningThe rest period for each type of speed training should be enough to drop the heart rate, but not to fully recover, so adapt my recommendations accordingly.

The pace you run at varies a little dependent on the distance of the rep, but generally it is Threshold pace i.e. 5-10km pace or quite hard.

The final example, 6.8km, is better run on a track and it doesn't matter if it isn't exactly 400m around. But if you don’t have access to a track then you could add the laps into your watch software, or alternatively, measure out 800m on flat ground, preferably grass, putting a marker at 400m. Then run 200m, walk 200m run 400m which gets you to the end. Run 800m which gets you to the start, 1200m would be 1.5 laps of your track etc.

You can vary your speed training by including another type of workout such as Tempo Training. Basically, Tempo is the normal pace you would run for a distance run of say 1 hour. Threshold pace is a faster pace, quite hard, and is for most people your 5-10km pace.

Tempo Training

DistanceRepsRestVariation
400m then
3km tempo
5-71-2 minutes rest in-between the 400’s then 3-4 minutes before 3kmAt Threshold then tempo

For a more detailed explanation of tempo and threshold pace have a read of this article in Runners World.

As well as the intervals I have mentioned above, there are also fartlek, pickups and surge variations which can all be incorporated into your speed training sessions.

A photo of Jonathan Worswick our guide and running coach on Speed Training for Trail RunningGive speed training a go, your sure to see an improvement in your performance.

Join me in the Pyrenees this September, where I will be guiding on Trail Running Holiday Pyrenees.

Until next time enjoy the trail.
Jonathan Worswick

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