Fitness, Fitness Tips, My Weekly Workouts, Running Tips

How Speed Training Has Changed My Running Game

speed training

I’m 3 weeks into Kara Goucher’s Half Marathon training plan and all I keep thinking to myself is why the hell did I not try this plan YEARS ago.

When I started running I had no idea what I was doing and created my own training plans that were centered around a weekly long run and 1-2 recovery runs. I figured the best way to get better at distance running was to run long distances over and over again right? WRONG! I would end up blowing out my legs and being too sore for any other running.

My crazy training plans worked because I’ve now completed 5 half marathons and 1 full marathon BUT I have never felt in any of these races that I could have gone any faster. My body was so use to running the same speed over and over and over pushing the pace wasn’t even an option.

So going into this year of racing I know I can do the distance (13.1 miles) but now I’m shooting for a goal PR of 1:45:00 at Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego in June. 

Back to the Kara Goucher plan… Kara has you running 4-6x/ week with 1 speed day, 2-4 easy days and 1 long(ish) day. HOLY SHOCK TO MY BODY!

The first week of the plan I couldn’t walk for days after the first speed workout. It was so incredibly eye opening to realize just how badly I’d been neglecting these speed muscles for the past ummm 2 years of running. OOPS!

I’ve completed 3 speed workouts now: a fartlek run, running 3 miles at 10-20 seconds under goal race pace and 3 miles at 10-20 seconds over race pace. These workouts have been hard as hell considering I use to do most of my training at a 9:30-10:30/ mile pace and with my goal of a 1:45:00 half my goal pace is about 8:00/ mile. 

Butttt guess what?? I’ve actually completed the workouts and every single time I’m finished I feel so motivated and it really reinforces my confidence that if I stick to Kara’s plan this 1:45:00 goal may actually be possible. I’ve also felt a long stronger in my longer runs and seem to have that kick at the end that I’ve never had before.

Speed work…I’m starting to really believe in you!


speed training


Types of Speed Training:

So after all that talk about speed training you may be wondering how you can incorporate it into your running routine.

Here’s some of the speed workouts from Kara Goucher’s Half Marathon training plan:

  • Fartlek (speed play): Warm up 1-2 miles off the track! Run (2 min strong, 1 min easy, 1 min pushing, 2 min easy). Repeat this (2,1,1,2) 3-6 times, then cool down. No Garmin! Paces unimportant, just a way to be in tune with how you feel, and ease in to working out.
  • Smooth Miles: 3x mile at goal half pace plus 10 sec-20 sec, with 1-2 min rest in between. Visualize being consistent.
  • Tempo: 3 miles continuous at 20 sec over goal pace. Goal for this workout is to build aerobic strength. Try to keep the pace steady.
  • Pace Checker: 8x800m at goal half pace with 1 min rest. This workout should get you comfortable with your race pace. This is a good check-in point on your half goal. If this workout is not doable as written, consider adjusting your goal.
  • Switchblade: 2 miles continuous (1st mile @ 10 sec over goal pace, 2nd at 10 sec under goal pace), 2-3 min rest, repeat switchblade. This workout is a great one to avoid โ€œpace lockโ€, and also to practice the natural variations around goal pace that happen during the actual race. Try to be as relaxed as possible during the 10 sec over goal pace!
  •  Cutdown: 4 miles continuous: 1st mile 20 sec over goal pace, 2nd mile 10 sec over goal pace, 3rd mile at goal race pace, 4th mile at 10 sec under goal pace. The goal of this workout is to go faster each mile. If your first mile is 30 sec over goal, just try to cut 10 sec off each mile.


speed training


Weekly Workouts:

Like I mentioned above I’m following the Kara Goucher plan for Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego in June BUT I actually have another half marathon this week.

Yep, it’s officially La Jolla Half week!

I didn’t pick this race to go for a PR on because to make it simple it’s SO HILLY! This freakin’ course has a 2 mile hill at about miles 5-7 then another killer hill at the very end… goal = finish!

So since it’s technically a taper week and training week I’m going to skip from week 4 to week 10 so I still get some running in but not SO MUCH that I’m dead come race day.

Here’s what week 10 aka taper week looks like from Kara Goucher’s plan:


speed work

workout #10 “fun reminder”: 2x mile at goal with 2 min rest in between, 3 min rest, 2x800m at goal, 1 min rest in between. This should be a fun one! Donโ€™t overthink it, and donโ€™t go faster than your goal pace! 

anddd here’s my plan:

  • Monday: rest + stretch
  • Tuesday: 3 easy miles with strides + yoga
  • Wednesday: 5 easy miles 
  • Thursday: yoga 
  • Friday: 3 mile fun reminder workout (+1 mile warm-up)
  • Saturday: rest + stretch 
  • Sunday: RACE DAY!!


speed training



Your Turn,

Have you noticed that speed training has helped your running game?

What’s your favorite speed workout?

Are you running the La Jolla half or any races this weekend?



Linking up with Eat Pray Run DC for the Weekly Training Recap

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  • Reply shaniece April 17, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Wow, I’m so happy you found a plan that is going to help you get to your goal. I’m not a distance runner, but I’m going to start going to Torrey Pines to do sprinting intervals instead being indoors on the elliptical.
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    • Reply Diana Becker April 17, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Aww thank you! OMG yes that hill would be perfect for sprint intervals…hello super toned legs and butt ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Lisa @ Mile by Mile April 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Speed work is so beneficial, especially for a half-marathon! The first time I broke 1:45 and cut 8 minutes off my PR was when I finally added speed work into my training. Best of luck with the rest of your training!

    • Reply Diana Becker April 17, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Woah that’s so awesome to hear how much speed training helped you! THANK YOU ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply courtney @ eat pray run dc April 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I think purposeful runs and varied pacing really makes a big difference! Good luck on your 1:45 goal!!

    • Reply Diana Becker April 17, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      I 100% agree!! Keeping the pace varied has really helped and has made speed training actually pretty enjoyable. THANK YOU ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Tracy Schoenfeld April 17, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    I have a love/hate relationship with speed work…as in I hate it while I’m doing it but I love how I feel afterward and what it does for my overall running! I’m definitely a believer! I’ve heard good things about Kara’s plan and hopefully planning to work toward a 1:45 later this year – interested to see how this plan works for you!

    • Reply Diana Becker April 18, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      My thoughts EXACTLY on speed work!! Be sure to check back in June after my half to see if I did the 1:45:00 goal- I’m really looking forward to reading about your training too ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Janelle @ Run With No Regrets April 18, 2017 at 6:37 am

    I’ve definitely noticed the benefits of speed training, especially the past couple of years. I’m excited to see myself progress. Good luck on reaching your 1:45 goal!
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    • Reply Diana Becker April 18, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks so much! It’s been a transition for my poor legs but a few weeks in I’m really starting to see the benefits ๐Ÿ™‚

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