Get up to speed with Dylan Wykes

So you want to get faster, eh?  The benefits of speed workouts go far beyond improving race times, they also improve mobility and flexibility, create muscle and stronger bones, reduce the risk of injury, and will overall make you a more efficient runner.

We asked Olympian, Mile2marathon coach, and Run Ottawa Elite Coordinator Dylan Wykes to give us his top 3 workouts for you to incorporate into your weekly routine, and show up at a real live start line in the near future ready to set a personal best. If you’re new to speed workouts, make sure to start easy (1/week) and take the time to recover properly


Workout #1: Mona Fartlek

Fartlek is a Swedish word for “Speedplay” and it’s generally used to indicate timed intervals— alternating between fast running intervals and recovery (slow running or walking) intervals.

This particular speed workout was made famous by an Australian athlete named Steve Moneghetti, one of the world’s best marathoners in the 80s and 90s. 

The workout:

2 x 90 seconds fast/90 seconds recovery

4 x 60 seconds fast/60 seconds recovery

4 x 30 seconds fast/30 seconds recovery

4 x 15 seconds fast/15 seconds recovery

This gives you a total of 20 minutes of running, with 10 minutes of that being fast running. The fast intervals should be run at 5km race effort or faster. There is more flexibility in how you run the recovery intervals. During the early season, I’ll tell my athletes to run the recoveries very slow. As the season progresses I often have them try to maintain a “steady” effort for the recovery intervals. I usually have my athletes keep track of the total distance they covered in the 20 minutes. And we use this metric as a means to track progress. We’ll repeat this workout once every 4-5 weeks. 


Workout #2: short hill sprints

Hills pack a lot of punch in a short workout because they are a great way to work on speed, as well as strength and technique. 

The workout:

8 x 40sec hill sprints/slow walk-jog back down hill for recovery

Choose a hill that is steep, but not too steep—it has to be runnable with decent form. If it’s so steep that you have to walk or power hike up, it defeats the purpose of the workout.

Mark a start line from which you start all of your intervals. When you reach 40 seconds of the first interval, mark that spot as your finish. Try to get a little bit further up the hill with each 40 second interval. 

The sprints should be run at 1 mile race effort, ie a fast pace. Take your time with the recoveries in between. Your focus should be on running the hills quickly. Focus on maintaining good form and producing power with each stride. 


Workout #3: 400m intervals on the track

Track workouts are a great way to develop speed and focus on being able to hit very specific pace/split times. 

The workout:

Sets of 4 x 400m, with 60sec recovery (walk or slow jog) between intervals. And 2 minutes recovery between sets. The first time you do this workout start with 2 sets. 

Run intervals 1-3 at ~5km race effort or slightly faster. Run Interval #4 at a faster pace—close to 1 mile race effort should be the goal. 

Repeat this workout in the future with the goal of adding another set of 4 x 400m, as opposed to running faster splits for 2 sets. This will help you improve on your speed endurance, not just your pure speed which is important for pushing your aerobic threshold higher.

Mile2Marathon was founded by Olympians Dylan Wykes & Michael Woods, and aims to provide unparalleled coaching services and training communities to runners and endurance athletes of all abilities. Join our M2M Team Workouts in your city!