This article was published on March 31st, 2014
As marathon training reaches its peak and marathon race day draws nearer, training shifts from strength to speed. At this stage in the training, the body has endured enough endurance and strength to run a marathon, and in the final stages of preparation, increasing speed becomes the priority.
Speed training, also known as fartlek, is the fastest to loose, so that’s why it’s done at the very end of marathon training. The efforts of speed training can be lost in under two weeks. Speed training improves coordination and the ability to run faster than your current ability level. Speed training is about pushing yourself to the limit, while maintaining good form.
Effective speed training is done in 800m intervals. Each interval should be run at the exact same pace, at 95% of maximum heart rate. The time that it takes to run 800m, is the equivalent time of rest between each interval. The rest time should be continued slow walking movement to keep the muscles moving and blood flowing.
Building up lactic acid threshold is an important part of speed training. So much lactic acid is produced that the body cannot get rid of it fast enough, causing it to accumulate in the muscles and blood. High levels of lactic acid causes a burning feeling in the legs and a queasy feeling in the stomach.
For maximum efficiency, a short 1km warm up run is needed before interval training, along with a 1km cool down run post training.