Workout Of The Week: Speed Workouts The Hansons Way

Don't underestimate the value of proper pacing.

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Don’t underestimate the value of proper pacing.

The Hansons-Brooks Distance Project training plan has been available in some form on the group’s website for years, but those plans offered a weekly overview, not the daily workouts themselves. With the new book Hansons Marathon Method spelling out the Hansons approach, runners have access to Hansons workouts for easy runs, speed workouts, tempo runs, long runs, and strength workouts.

Want to try out some Hansons workouts? Below we offer the Hansons approach to easy runs, speed workouts, and tempo runs.

RELATED — Workout Of The Week: Easy Days The Hansons Way

Getting Speedy

With speed workouts, marathon training begins to get more interesting. When we refer to speed training, we are talking about interval sessions, also called repeat workouts. Speed workouts require you to run multiple bouts of certain distances at high intensities with recovery between each. This type of training not only plays a role in prompting some of the important physiological changes we need but also teaches your mind to handle harder work.

Surprisingly, advanced runners often make the same mistakes that novices do in terms of speed training; namely, they neglect it. If you are new to marathoning and your past speed workouts have consisted of simply running some days slightly faster than others, you are in the majority. Luckily, the speed workouts we give you can provide an introductory course on how to implement harder workouts. As you learn to properly implement speed workouts, your training will be transformed from a somewhat aimless approach to fitness to a guided plan of attack.

Speed Guidelines

As in other workouts, correct pacing is essential. The speed workouts are shorter intervals ideally at 95–98 percent of VO2max pace.

In addition to pace, the duration of the speed intervals is important. Optimal duration lies between 2 and 8 minutes. If it is too short, the amount of time spent at optimal intensity is minimized and precious workout time is wasted; if it is too long, lactic acid builds up, and you are too tired to complete the workout at the desired pace. As a result, the length of speed intervals should be adjusted to your ability and experience levels.

Recovery is another important part of speed sessions, allowing you the rest you need to complete another interval. Guidelines for recovery generally state that it should be between 50 and 100 percent of the repeat duration time. For instance, if the repeat is 2 minutes in duration, the recovery should be between 1 and 2 minutes.

Speed Workout: 400 Repeats

* 1–3 mile warm-up

*12 x 400 with 400 jog recovery

  • If you run a 5K in 16:00, your 400 pace for this workout should be 1:18.
  • If you run a 5K in 20:00, your 400 pace for this workout should be 1:38.
  • If you run a 5K in 24:00, your 400 pace for this workout should be 1:58.

(Hansons Marathon Method includes paces for a wide range of 5K finish times.)

* 1–3 mile cool-down

Adapted with permission from Hansons Marathon Method, now available in bookstores, running shops, and online. Download a preview chapter from

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