Speed Endurance Workouts

Athletic woman running during sunset on rooftop of parking, garage

The amount of time you can maintain a top running speed known as your speed endurance. When you're coasting at your top speed, eventually you start to hit a wall. You start to slow down no matter how hard you try to push it. Speed endurance workouts train your body to delay hitting that wall.

To get better at speed endurance, you need to run at or near your top speed for short distances. Over time, you build up the amount of distance that you run to increase your endurance. Runners can use speed endurance workouts as an addition to their regular training programs.

Track and Field Training

Track and field events like the 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-meter require speed endurance. You run as fast as you can in these races without much regard for pacing. As you hit your top speed, your body gets tired very quickly. Speed endurance training helps you fight off that fatigue so that you can run longer at your top speed.

Depending on the distance of the race, you want to run your speed endurance training distances will change. Your speed endurance training distance is usually shorter than the distance for you're training.

Training Distance

There is a limit on the amount of distance you can train for speed endurance. Between 400 to 600 meters, there's a grey area where your body will begin to max out on speed and you'll be forced to slow down. Most people can't maintain their top speed beyond 600 meters, even if they're an advanced athlete.

How Fast to Run

Because speed endurance isn't the only part of your training, it's important to leave a little bit in the tank after every training run, so you're not completely exhausted. In a speed-endurance training session, you might run four, five or six sprints near your top speed.

If you give it everything you've got on all of those training runs you'll be exhausted. Aim for about 95 percent of your top speed on each run. Remember that you're working on maintaining speed, so each sprint that you do in a training session should be around the same speed. Try to run each sprint in the same amount of time, which means that the workout will get harder as it goes on.

Male runner sprinting outdoors in morning

Speed endurance workouts help you run faster for longer.

Short Distance Sprints

For a shorter-distance speed endurance workout, run 60-80 meters close to your top speed. Do two to three of these sprints back-to-back, rest four to six minutes, and then do two or three more sprints.

Middle Distance Sprints

For a middle-distance workout, run 150 to 300 meters three to four times and rest four minutes between each run.

Longer Sprints

You can also start at a longer distance, like 300 meters, and run shorter distances each time. That way, you can keep running at your top speed even when you fatigue. For example, you could run 300 meters, 250 meters, 200 meters and 150 meters, resting four minutes in between each sprint.

For longer distances, run between 400 and 600 meters per sprint. That distance is perfect for someone who's training to run a longer race, like the 800-meter. Because these runs are longer and more intense, rest periods are a little longer. Take 5 to 8 minutes to rest between each sprint.

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