Improve your ability to run goal marathon race pace with this sneaky tough interval session.
It can be said with a high level of consensus that one of the major goals of marathon training—regardless of whether your goal is to finish the race in just over two hours or a few minutes under four hours—is to improve your ability to run goal race pace for the entire 26.2-mile distance.
There are many workouts runners can sprinkle into their training schedules to achieve this end, including long intervals and tempo runs at goal race pace, but a favorite of professional runner Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce, a Oiselle-sponsored athlete who trains with Northern Arizona Elite and sports a a 2:29:35 personal best in the marathon, is a simple session of 8-10 x 1,000m at goal marathon race pace with a short 60-second recovery jog between repeats.
Bruce, who along with her husband Ben coaches runners through Running With The Bruces, likes to have her athletes do this workout 4-5 times a year, and usually twice during a specific marathon buildup. “Doing the workout at the beginning of the cycle and [once again] closer to the race can help measure the fitness you’ve gained,” explains Bruce.
If you’re not in marathon training, running 8-10 x 1K at marathon race effort with a short jog recovery between reps during the base phase of your training cycle can be a great substitute for a tempo run and will help develop aerobic strength early in the training cycle.
Bruce says this workout is best done on the road, but it can also be done on the track—with caution, of course. “If you’re injury prone, stay off the track,” advises Bruce. “The workout is long and requires a lot of turns. A road is great practice as that’s where the marathon will be run.”
Here’s how you do it:
The Workout: Run 1,000m (or 2-1/2 laps of the track) at your goal marathon race pace. After completing your first ‘K’ at goal marathon race pace, jog easily for one minute and repeat this sequence 8-10 times depending on your experience and fitness level.
The Cooldown: Easy 15-20 minute jog
“This workout is great practice to get your legs used to running marathon pace, while also teaching your body to clear out lactic acid,” explains Bruce. “The short rest allows you to get your heart rate back down so it’s not a full-blown marathon tempo, but you still get 5-6 miles of work at marathon pace. It gets very tough and uncomfortable at the end but with such short rest the workout is over sooner than you think.”