Coach Culpepper: Get Fast First

How Do I “Get Fast First”?

— A “Get Fast First” approach should include training for a 5K or 10K during a 2-month period prior to starting the 3- to 4-month buildup for your half- or full marathon.– During this initial two-month period of 5K/10K training, faster repetitions under a half mile long should be included weekly and complemented with another key workout such as a tempo run or intervals in the range of 3 to 6 minutes.
— The goal of this focused speed training is to get your body adapted to the quicker pace and harder effort level that comes with a solid 5K or 10K effort.
— Be careful during this period. Although speed comes around much quicker than any other aspect of training, it still takes time for your connective tissue, tendons and muscles to adapt to the new requirements being placed upon them.
— Another great element to include among your speed workouts are hill repeats in the range of 30 seconds to a minute in length. Hills tax the muscular system nicely without the stress of running as fast as on flat ground.
— Once the transition to half- or full marathon prep has occurred, then speed workouts should be included in the training schedule once every 10-14 days. During this time, these workouts should be considered more of a maintenance session versus trying to get faster. The 2-month period prior to half-marathon or marathon training was the time to get faster. Now it is more about keeping those fast-twitch muscles active and your nervous system firing.

RELATED: Running 101: Speed Training For Beginners

Getting fast first is the most effective way to take time off your half-marathon or marathon personal best, help you hit that treasured Boston qualifying time or simply set yourself up for the best experience possible in your first serious attempt at a longer event.

This column first appeared in the August 2013 issue of Competitor magazine. 


About The Author:

Two-time U.S. Olympian Alan Culpepper helps runners of all abilities via his website at

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