It’s a balancing act when you’re training. You need both endurance running and speed work to become a better distance runner. One isn’t better than the other and you can’t skip the speed work if you want to reach your potential.

When you go for a run, it could mean many different things, depending on your training. You might be working on proper form or trying to stretch your distance further. Mixing speed work with endurance running can help you with your running form and it can help you break through plateaus.

Sometimes, speed work can be only sprints and nothing else. Depending on the type of speed endurance training you’re doing, you might do five 100-yard springs, recover for a few minutes and repeat it. Some running coaches will even have you do a ladder-type of spring where you start with 100 yards, then do 120 yards, and then 140 yards, and so on.

What is Speed Work in Endurance Running?

Endurance Running Training

Speed work comes in a few different forms, but it’s commonly a spring for 10 to 30 seconds in the middle of a distance run. When performing speed work, you will work your anaerobic system harder, which will help with the processing of lactate in the body. It can also help to create high-intensity muscle fatigue and ensure you’re using the proper running form.

When Should You Use Speed Work in Your Training Cycle?

Speed work training secessions should be used in preparation, pre-competition, and competition training. The best time to use this type of training is throughout the last ten weeks of your running season.

It’s important to note, recovering from a strong speed training session may take longer than recovering from a regular endurance running training session. It’s best to follow a speed training day with a tempo run, recover run, or long run for one or two days to allow your body to properly recover.

Regardless of when your running coach has you doing speed work, you want to make sure there’s a balance. If you do too much speed work, it could work the anaerobic system too much, while not enough only works the aerobic system. A good running coach will be able to help you build the right balance between endurance running and speed work into your training.

When to Use Endurance Training

While you want to work in speed work to help break through plateaus and work on your running form, you also want to use endurance running to help create low-intensity muscle fatigue and work your aerobic system. This type of training will help the body deliver oxygen to your muscles more efficiently and can help you work on your breathing.

With a longer run, you have to learn how to stabilize your breathing and you have to learn how to use proper running form. You will be testing your body as more of your muscles will likely end up sore during the run compared to speed work.

Striking the right balance between endurance running and speed work can help ensure you reach your running goals. When you want to get the most out of your endurance running and speed work, you might need a good running coach to help create the right training program for you.