Why Add Speed Training to Fall Marathon Preparation?

I wrote this post before my Nanny Jolly passed away. My plans have since changed a little, and I am figuring out a race to do here in England instead, but I am still committed to my training over these next few weeks (even though it is taking a back seat). Here is my plan to the best of my knowledge.

Thank you all for your love and condolences about my Nanny, it helps ease the pain for my family.

Firstly, thank you so much for your kind words about my post on Wednesday about being an athlete rather than a skinny runner. I was really nervous about what everyone was going to think, and whether I would just be attacked for this, but it seemed like it came across in the way I intended, and I am so thankful for that.

You guys are awesome, and thank you for always being so kind and supportive!

Over the last few weeks, a lot of friends have asked me about my training. I did my big race. Yes, it was a little crammed, and yes, it didn’t go as hoped, but what are we doing now?

You hear about people who have one of those bad races on a big day, and they let it dictate their future, let it spin them out of control.

To be honest, I was a little worried that was going to happen to me.

I did not take any time off after the race as we still have work to do this season, but I was worried I would go one of two ways:

I went balls to the wall in that race, giving it all of my emotional energy, and as it didn’t work out, I had wasted that opportunity as I can only do that kind of effort 1-2 times a year MAX.

I thought I would struggle to find the motivation to run, and kind of be in the stage I was in last year after I had the panic attack in Cinci, where I just had no motivation to keep running until I took a break.


I would let my frustration of the race not going as planned throw me into overdrive, and I would end up overtrained and/or injured as I would just be trying to “make up for it” and prove myself.

I told you earlier this year that I finally feel like I can let go of the need to prove myself.

Thankfully, neither of these happened.

After the race, we took one week of easy running.

I was the most sore I have ever been after a half marathon, to the marathon level of soreness, and those first 3-4 days, I did not run a single mile within the 7 minute range.

Other than some downhill strides to try to wake them up midweek.

tina downhill strides

I listened to my body, and ran the pace that felt right, which was around 8:30-9 minutes per mile. Here are even more of my thoughts on running by feel rather than time.

Let me also remind you, that my race pace for that race, was 5:48 per mile (if the conditions had been better I would have been trying for 5:35 per mile). Hopefully another reminder for you to keep those easy runs easy.

I felt slow, sore, and exhausted.

Remember last year I talked about how elites do lose motivation and sometimes we have no desire to run, all we want to do is count the minutes until the run is over.

That is what those first few days looked like.

But I made sure my sponsors were out in good form during this time; lots of EnduroPacks, Sizzlefish and Perfect Amino for me during those days.

On the 5th day after the race, I had a 15-16 mile run while we were in Nashville. For the first hour, I ran with Steve at the same pace I had been running the whole week, but in the second hour, a girl ended up 10m ahead of me who was running the exact same speed as me. We went for a mile with me just sitting there, but it just felt so awkward as I felt like I was too close to her.

I decided to put in a little (and yes, I mean little), surge to get past her enough to where we were not tracking one another.

But after about 800m, I felt better than I had all week. I decided to see how that felt for longer, sometimes you just need to kick the junk out of your legs.

Sure enough, as I ran, I felt more and more like myself.

tina nashville

Now, I was not running fast by any means, I would probably guess that mile was an 8:00 mile, but I just realized maybe this was one of those occasions I needed to wake my legs up.

This was day 5 remember, please don’t try this the 1-3 days after your race, those days are for pure recovery!!!!

I finished that run feeling back to myself, both physically and mentally.

We did a light fartlek that weekend, pretty much just strides for 1-2 minute bursts. This was a true get-rid-of-the-junk workout, and one I would recommend for you if you are coming back from a race.

I had graston and Active release on my quads 3 times in the last 2 weeks from Dr. Mike, and an hour massage on Monday, which was AMAZING, and I was SO sore afterwards, showing me that not only have I been neglecting my massages, but my body needed to get that crap out.

tina graston

I did a long run and 8 miles worth of repeats last Thursday, which went really well, and was the confidence boost I needed.

Okay, so I have rambled on about my recovery process, hopefully given you a few pointers for your post race return to reality, but what is next for me?

Why did we not take time off after such a big race when you know I am a HUGE fan of 1-2 weeks off after races, and start building up for California International Marathon?

Well, we still have “work to do” and it’s too early.

Last years marathon proved one thing to me; a speed segment before going into a marathon segment is critical, and something we intend to do every year.

This 10 week buildup for the European Half was not enough time to build speed, especially as we were not able to do true speed sessions, as I needed to build the strength to handle a 13.1 mile race.

So after a week of pure recovery, now is the time to do that, and I have a 6 week period of speed workouts, while keeping the long runs up to 20 miles to keep that strength.

I also mentioned it is too early.

Which I think many of you may need to also consider in your future build ups.

CIM is on the 4th December, that is 19 weeks from now.

WAAAAYYYYYY too early for me to start marathon training. That is waaaaayyyy too long of a buildup.


Many of you are probably thinking:

I am not an elite, I need longer to get my body ready.

If you have been running for longer than a few years, I would argue that you do not need that extra time. Your body has all your previous marathon buildups in there, and you would be much better off giving it less time, and not risking overtraining (remember recreational runners are just as likely to end up overtrained as elites!).

We like to take 12-14 weeks to prepare for a marathon, including a few weeks of buildup mileage after time off.

I encourage you to try around the same amount of time.

Off I went on a tangent again, speed work.

So yes, I am doing a speed work segment for 6 weeks (I explain why this is so important here). I will race Beach2Beacon and Falmouth, and then take a week off before starting training for CIM.

Note: I am not racing Beach2Beacon anymore as being with my family during this time took precedent. I am looking for a different race here in the UK instead. Any suggestions for fast, flat 5k-10mile the first week of August, I would appreciate it!

I love and hate the speed work. It makes me feel so uncoordinated and like my legs just cannot keep up, BUT it is short, quick, and something different to change it up, which is fun.

My passion is back, my desire to make the most of this is strong, and the best part is, I am building off the fitness of that half marathon segment.

The race may not have gone to plan, but the training is all still in there, and I have to keep reminding myself of this. I am sure you have been the same way too. We forget that each season of running, we are building more strength in our legs, that will contribute to your future running.

Another great reminder to love that body you are in 🙂

I know I have rambled off in a load of different directions today, but I hope that you can take some tidbits and apply them to your own training.

Speed work: Love or hate it?

How to Use Hills in Your Training

I created a printable hill workout sheet with 8 sample workouts to try. I will email it to you.

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  • So happy to hear and read this!!! I could not agree with you more and I always need the reminder to keep the easy days easy. I actually say to myself “have the courage to run slow” which is what you taught me 🙂 I hope you are nestled into the comfort of your family right now. Sending you lots of light and love! xoxo

  • Running easy and doing speedwork allowed me to set PRs in almost every distance this year. This is great advice and I’m glad you are hanging out with your family. Good luck this fall with everything Tina.

  • So sorry to hear about your grandma xoxo. That Graston therapy is no joke it really hurts. Do you do it on a regular basis?

  • Soren Brockdorf
    July 27, 2016 9:54 am

    Very sorry for your loss. All my grandparents are long gone, but I remember my last conversations with all of them like it was yesterday. I don’t know why, but for me it stays a monumental day in my life. Fabulous post by the way. I agree speed work is so important. At 48 I will never see VO2 in the 70s ever again, but the difference from being in the 50s and 60s is 100% about speed work.

  • I start training for CIM next week, but my first 4 or 6 weeks are more of a structured speed segment than actual marathon training – short hill repeats, hill sprints, short fartleks, drills, plyos, all that fun stuff. Most people skip over the segment but I agree with you that it’s so important before all the marathon specific work.
    I hope you are enjoying your time with family – keeping you in my thoughts!

  • Yes, yes, yes. I agree with all of this. I am mentally gearing up for CIM (yay!! I get to finally meet you :)), but my situation is a little different in that I have been dealing with the awful PF the last 2 months. It’s finally 95% over and I am running (slow and easy) again, but right now can’t do a speed segment. No way – as we have to be careful that I am 100% better and nothing is going to flare up. That said, as soon as I get some easy running/testing my foot under my belt, I can work on the speed. I am so, so sorry about your Nanny Jolly. I am so glad you are home with your wonderful family. Thinking of you friend and always appreciate your posts! xoxox

  • Most of my speedwork lately has been racing, but I’m trying to add in some track workouts. Running easy really does help a lot. Also so sorry about your grandmother dear!

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