are you built for speed or endurance?

Author’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Laura at Mommy Run Fast; Laura is a social worker, turned mother (to a beautiful daughter) and part-time spin instructor.  Currently, she’s training to be a health counselor – she’s passionate about feeding her family whole foods (check out her recipes page for some killer ideas).  Laura love running, healthy holistic living, and experimenting in the kitchen – I’m excited to have her blogging at {will run for margaritas} today!

Are you a Speedy Gonzalez or the Energizer Bunny?

Runners come in all shapes, speeds, and shoe sizes.  Five runners preparing for the same race may have drastically different results based on their training, ability level and even genetics. 

Did you know that most runners tend to naturally excel more at either speed or distance? We all have both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles, and you can benefit from knowing which one you have more of.

In terms of elite athletes, Olympic sprinters have been shown to have about 80 percent fast twitch fibers, while those who run the fastest marathons tend to have 80 percent slow twitch fibers (source).

I don’t know about you, but I can have way too much fun with pace calculators (such as the McMillan calculator).  I love plugging in new race results and checking out all the corresponding race predictions.  Besides helping you strategize and find the appropriate pace for new races, these calculators can also tell you if you have more speed or endurance.If a short race, such as a 5k, predicts a faster half or full marathon than you have run, you have more speed than endurance.  If your half or full marathon predicts a faster 5k than you’ve been able to pull off, you are probably better at endurance running.  (This assumes that you have trained properly for the distances).

For me, the longer the race, the less accurate my predicted results are.  I’m starting to accept that I have more speed than endurance. 

Of course, when you first start running it is very difficult to tell, as it takes time to build up both your speed and endurance.  But as you fall into a routine mileage schedule and have a few races or time trials under your belt, you should be able to tell if one comes more easily for you.

Knowing our strengths and weaknesses can help us tailor our training to balance them out.  A speedier short distance runner can start paying more attention to quality long runs and can utilize tempo runs to build endurance.

Those better at pacing long distances can work on leg turnover and speed or interval workouts to improve their shorter race times.


Are you better at bursts of speed and short distances, or can you run forever without tiring? Do you use pace calculators?


For more margaritas, follow here:
Twitter: @run4margaritas

For more Mommy Run Fast, follow Laura here:
Twitter: @mommyrunfast

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  1. Nice post by Laura! She knows her stuff

  2. I really think this is a matter of how you have been training. If you are doing a lot of intervals, but logging relatively low mileage, then you will be better at shorter, faster races. If you are doing high mileage with plenty of long runs, but not as much interval work, then you will be more suited to endurance. I think that as athletes, we can train effectively for whatever distance we decide is our target.

  3. Thanks for having me, Melody! 🙂

  4. Great guest post Laura! I am obsessed with using pace calculators. I even have an app on my cell phone with one. I think that I am more suited towards the longer distances since I can run forever and ever. 🙂

  5. Great way to figure it all out! I can tell you that I have zero fast-twitch muscle in these legs–I’m built for the long haul.

  6. Very interesting article! I thought I’m more an endurance runner, but actually it turns out I’m better in speed.

  7. I’m definitely built for endurance, at least at this point. However I have been trying to improve my shorter distance times. It’s tough to run uncomfortable. I love those calculators too. Super fun!

  8. I never used a pace calculator but that is pretty neat. I also just never understood how people can run ‘forever’! Man, that must be nice!

  9. I love the calculators too – and I definitely fall into the endurance category!

  10. Fantastic tips! Thanks so much for sharing all of this.

  11. I’m built for speed. My running partner is built for endurance. I also tend to get injured with long races where my partner is the energizer bunny. Frustrating for me!

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