5 Workouts You Should Learn to Love

Fartlek Fun

There are many variations on the theme but the point is to throw in 5-8 surges during a regular training run to work on your anaerobic threshold. I like to do 6 surges of 5:00 each with about 3:00 to 4:00 of regular training run pace in between. The keys are:

  1. Run the surges at a target effort for 10K or 15K race pace.
  2. Keep the running in between the surges at a solid training run pace.
  3. Don’t take more than 5:00 “rest” between surges.
  4. The surges should be at least 3:00.

This kind of run can be done on a regular training run and adjusted easily to your fitness level and goals. Love it because it will increase your endurance and give you confidence that you can shift gears to go faster when you want to. Love it because it is fun to say, “FARTLEK!”

Cut-Down Run

This is a basic tempo run for 4- 6 miles but with increasing speed rather than a steady pace. Start at goal Marathon pace + :20. Cut down :10 for each mile. So if your Marathon goal pace is 7:00 per mile, you’d run: 7:20, 7:10, 7:00, 6:50. This simulates how you feel at the end of a race. Just to maintain pace, you feel like you’re speeding up! After doing this workout a few times, you’ll know you can finish strong.

Me running a 1500 M at the FSU Track last summer

Me running a 1500 M at the FSU Track last summer

Track work- Quarters

This is probably the oldest and most overused workout in history! High School coaches are famous for assigning 400M reps. The 20X400M that turned into 60X 400M was immortalized in the great novel, Once a Runner. Here’s how to do it correctly. Depending on your goal race and current fitness, you’ll run 8-20 reps. Preparing for a 1,500M or 3,000M race would mean running 8-10 reps at goal race pace. Preparing for a 5K, you’d want to run 12-20 reps at 5K goal race pace.

This is the important part! Pay attention! Most people take too much rest when doing this workout! Your rest interval should be 200 meter jog (not walk) or if you use a timed rest, it should be less time than it takes you to run your 400M. If you are running 10X 400M with 400M rest jog/ walk you really are not helping yourself much.

Here’s how I will do my 400M repeats. I like to use them to build speed for 5Ks so I will do them just under 5K goal pace. To keep the rest short but allowing me to go fast and get the good burn on the leg muscles, I break them into sets: [5X400 with 200M jog rest] —400 jog rest—[4X400M with 200M jog rest] –400M jog rest—[ 5X400M with 200 jog rest] This way I get 200M rest between reps to stay a little out of breath but I get 400M jog between sets to recover before hitting another set. It strikes a nice balance.

Track Work- The Y workout- 2 X 2 mile

My coach, Joe Burgasser, has letter and number codes for his workouts. This one is the 7Y. I say that’s for “Y do I have to do it again?!” When I was in college this workout had two names: 2X Death and 2X PR. The first one is self-explanatory. The second name was given in my honor because my freshman year, I ran my fastest 2 mile ever on the first rep and then went even faster the second one, thereby breaking my Personal Record (PR) twice in the same workout. This is a hard one but one you can learn to love. Simply run 2 miles at your 10K goal pace or a little faster. Jog 400 meters. Then run 2 miles again at the same pace. This summer when I ran it I got 11:00 and 11:04. Not bad in the heat and if I can translate that to a 10K in cool weather this fall, I’ll be very happy!

Get Track Fast!

Get Track Fast!

The Ladder

This combines speed and threshold running in the same workout. There are many variations but a common theme: Get some raw speed in on the same day as some longer pace running reps. A simple ladder would be 200M fast (200M jog rest), 300M hard (100M jog rest), 400M hard (200M rest), 600M hard (200M rest) 800M hard (200M rest), 1200M hard (400M rest) 1200M hard (200M rest), 800M hard (200M rest), 600M hard (200M rest), 400M hard (200M rest), 300M hard (100M rest) 200M hard. I know it looks long and confusing written out but it follows a logical progression and mixes up speed with endurance. Love it for variety of paces within a workout.

Learn to love these 5 workouts and your 5K time will thank you!