Marathon Time Saver Workouts

By Rick Morris

At first glance the term marathon time saver workouts may seem like an oxymoron. It’s true that your weekly marathon training long run is usually a time consuming workout. It presents a bit of a challenge to turn a long workout into a time saver. You aren’t going to wave your magic running shoes over your head and turn a 3 hour run into a 20 minute run but there are some marathon workouts you can do that are highly time efficient. Here are just a few marathon time saver workouts.

Progressive Long Run

Nope – there’s just no way to squeeze 3 hours of running into 30 minutes. But what you can do, is squeeze several of your weekly workouts into one training run. That definitely qualifies as a marathon time saver. This long run combines the benefits of a long endurance run, a lactate threshold workout and a speed effort into one training run. This is similar to your other progressive runs except it is longer in duration. Run for 20 miles. Run the first 15 miles at your endurance pace. Then speed up to lactate threshold pace, or just a bit slower than 10K race pace, for 3 miles. Next speed up to 5K pace for one mile and finish with one mile as fast as you can maintain. You can adapt this to your specific long run distance by using similar proportional mileage.

Long Run Fartlek

This time saver marathon long run is similar to the progressive long run, except it is less structured. Run 20 miles alternating between endurance pace, lactate threshold pace and 5K pace. Don’t follow any set sequence. Just have fun with it and try to vary your pace frequently. Remember that this is still a long run, so don’t do too much high intensity running early in your workout.

Marathon Compound Sets

This is a short but sweet time saver workout that will improve your ability to hold marathon pace when fatigued. After a proper warm up, run 400 meters as fast as possible. Then slow to 5k pace for 800 meters before slowing again to marathon pace for 1 mile. Take no rest between the segments. Do 3 or more of these compound sets depending upon your available time. Rest between each compound set with 2 minutes of complete rest.

Terrible 200’s

This isn’t a classic marathon workout but it does such a great job at improving your overall fitness it can’t help but improve your marathon performance. It is also a very short, time saving workout. After a thorough warm up, hit your local 400 meter track and begin alternating 200 meter runs at mile pace with 200 meters at marathon pace. Keep going with no rest until you can no longer hold onto proper running form.