Speed Work. It can help.

After running last week’s speed workout and seeing the results I did, I remembered just how much speed work helps! Incase you missed it, I ran my fastest 5K coming in at exactly a sub-30 AND my fastest mile – all in the same workout.

Speed work, also known as a fartlek (Swedish for “speed play”), is a series of faster pickups with a recovery interval in between. Fartleks can be done just about anywhere on the roads, trails or treadmill.

Fartlek 1

I had never done a fartlek workout until last fall, when it was incorporated into a training plan by RunFit365.

My speed workouts have consisted of a 3-2-1, 2-2-1 and 30-20-10.

3-2-1 is when you run three minutes of easy intensity running followed by two minutes of moderate and then one minute of hard intensity for x-cycles. My training plan called for 5 cycles.

2-2-1 is the same as the 3-2-1, the only difference is instead of three minutes of easy intensity you only run for two.

30-20-10 is where you run easy intensity for 30 seconds, moderate intensity for 20 seconds and hard intensity for 10 seconds five times followed by a two minute recovery jog for x cycles.

I feel speed work has had the biggest impact on my training in the last 6 months, taking 5 minutes off my half marathon time and 4 minutes off my best 10k time.

Fartlek 2

More recently, I went out for a “race pace” run yesterday morning and earned another 5K PR taking less then :30 seconds off in a matter of a few days.


My goal is to run a sub 2:30 half, which I am super close to accomplishing, and then a sub 2:00 half. If you really want something, you have to work hard for it and I know in this case, consistency and speed work are the two things that are going to get me to that goal.

How do you increase your speed and endurance? Have you ever done any of the fartlek workouts list above? If so, which one do you feel you benefit from the most?



8 thoughts on “Speed Work. It can help.

  1. Nicely done with your 5k time! Yes, speed work is a necessary evil to increase pace. I run a lot of tempos, Yasso 800s, and easy runs with pick ups. It’s worked well! Keep it up and you’ll do GREAT with your half marathon goal.

  2. Awesome work! I have spent a lot of time training for longer distance runs, so speed has gone by the wayside. My goal for the year is a 30-or-under 5K and a 2:30 half. I am close to both. I have a 15K this weekend and then I have time to focus on my speedwork.

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