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3 track workouts for the marathon

Master your marathon pace on the track this spring

track workout

Training for a marathon is physically demanding, and the mileage and time you put in can feel like a full-time job. If you are chasing a time goal, make sure you are not only running decent mileage, but that you’re running the right speed in workouts to help you get the most out of your training.

Track Workout
Photo: Matt Stetson

While track workouts aren’t the main focus of a marathon training program, they are still practical for marathon runners to step outside their comfort zone. The following three workouts are taxing, but they all can help build a higher lactate tolerance, which can equate to running more efficiently at marathon pace.

25 laps of bends and straights

Twenty-five laps of jogging the bends in the track and striding the straights on a 400m track, which adds up to 10 km total. If you want to increase the difficulty of the workout, run the bends at marathon pace and surge the straights at around 10K/half-marathon pace.

Bends and straights are a popular style of fartlek training for distance runners to improve their strength and endurance late in a race. The goal is to enhance your ability to put on a late surge and overtake other competitors when you’re tired, or to help you push to the finish.

Three sets of 8x400m with 1 km @ MP between sets

Do each 400m rep of the first set at your half-marathon pace with 1 minute’s rest between reps. After eight 400m reps, do a one-kilometre rep at marathon pace, then take three minutes’ rest after the 1 km between sets. If the workout feels easy, by the time you start the third set, lower the pace of each 400m rep to around your 10K pace.

The goal is to get your body comfortable with paces on short rest to build up your confidence before the marathon.

Gel-cumulus 25
Photo: Asics Canada

10 to 12 reps of 800m with 400m float

Aim to run each 800m rep at your goal marathon pace or faster and float at 30 seconds per kilometre slower than your marathon pace during the 400m rest interval. This workout is a lot of volume. If you go out too fast, you’ll probably run out of gas later in the workout. The key is to remain controlled and hit paces while your body is fatigued.

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