Strength Training And Speedwork To Get Faster And Stronger

I recently set another huge personal record (PR) at the marathon distance, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I ran my fastest marathon in five years back in December and I was so excited about it but came up just a little short of my ultimate goal, which was to run under four hours. Fast forward to two weeks ago and that goal has been SMASHED with a new PR of 3:56:29.

And the reason I can’t stop thinking about it (aside from the fact that it was a huge goal that I’d been chasing for seven years and I’m still just giddy over the whole thing) is because I want to dissect it and analyze it and – most importantly – reproduce the results!


Getting faster was no accident; it took a lot of hard work. But, I’ve put in the work before. I’ve been attempting to hit this goal for years. What did I do differently this time that made my race so successful?

Strength Training And Speedwork

Three things: strength training, speedwork and mindset work.  Let’s talk about the easy stuff first.  That’s strength training and speedwork.


I had been hearing forever about how I needed to do core work and strength training before I caved and gave it a try. And now I can’t figure out what I was waiting for! I think I was intimidated by not knowing what to do or how to move or whether or not I was even capable and coordinated enough. And for a long time, I was neither capable nor coordinated, but I kept plugging away at it!

The same thing happened with speedwork though my fears there were mostly that it would hurt. And, yes, it does hurt.  It’s not easy!  But you do get used to it.


I think the real magic, though, is found in the combination of strength and speed exercises. Working on either one of them without the other just won’t yield the same results. That’s why I’m particularly excited about today’s workout because it combines the two in a new and different (and very sweaty!) way.

The only equipment you’ll need to set this up for yourself is a timer, and possibly a sweat towel. Or you can always follow along with the full- length exercise video below.


Speed + Strength – Bodyweight Sprints And Total Body Toning

Warm up, untimed.

Do approximately 20 of each exercise:

  • High Knees
  • Booty Kickers
  • Toy Soldiers
  • Drinky Birds
  • Goofy Jacks
  • Inchworms

Main Workout

Set your timer for intervals of 30 seconds (sprinting) and 1 minute (strength exercises). There is no rest. Complete these exercises one time each, during the one-minute intervals:

  • Squats
  • Lat Pulldowns
  • Standing Crunches
  • Reverse Lunges
  • Wing Flappers
  • Star Balance
  • Squats with Side Kick
  • Squeezed Elbow Raises
  • Side Raises


Following the tenth sprint interval, go immediately into this plank sequence:

  • Front Plank (one minute)
  • Left Side Plank (30 seconds)
  • Front Plank (one minute)
  • Right Side Plank (30 seconds)
  • Front Plank (one minute)

Mindset Work

The final piece of the getting faster puzzle – mindset work – was much more complicated for me, and maybe you can relate to this. For a long time, I didn’t really believe I could run faster or do anything better than I had already done. I felt very conflicted and had almost no confidence in my ability to chase down my dreams.


So, again, what was different this time? Well, here’s the chicken-and-the-egg thing about self-confidence: you have to get better to believe you can be better and you have to believe you can be better to get better. It’s almost like a confidence merry-go-round and you just have to jump on while it’s moving!

I started very small, as one should always do. I felt confident about one easy run at a time and gradually started working on being confident about more difficult runs.  I set my standards to sort of low and praised myself for achieving them. I practiced a lot of positive self-talk. And I really, truly put in the work. I gave it everything I had. I was ridiculously consistent.

And over time, I could feel myself getting stronger. The times on my runs were coming down. The more results I got, the harder I wanted to work for more. And of course, the harder I worked, the better results I got, and the more confident I became that I could do anything I set my mind to.

Honestly, by the time I toed the starting line at my last race, I could feel it in my bones that the day was going to go well. I had done the strength training, I had done the speedwork, I had put in the miles.  Failure was simply not an option.

Isn’t that amazing? And here’s the best part. I know this phrase gets tossed around a lot, but in this case, it’s definitely true:  if I can run a PR marathon by adding strength training to my workout routine, then I know for sure it will work for you, too.  In fact, you can literally follow the same strength plan that I used because I filmed all of the workouts and posted them on YouTube.