Winter running track

Race season may still seem far away but it’s never too early to practice your pacing. Today’s workout will improve your speed as well as test your ability to pace yourself correctly over a number of race paces. It will force you to be patient, to learn subtle speed/pace differences and also to save your best for last.

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RELATED: Perfect pacing: Making the case for ‘running by feel’

The workout itself is a straightforward 400m interval session, best suited for a standard track. You’ll aim to run ten 400m (one full lap) repeats with a complete lap of recovery in between. Simple right?

But here’s the catch: Each 400m lap needs to be run a bit faster than the one before it.

Begin with a warm-up of about 10-20 minutes of very easy running. Also add a few strides and dynamic stretching to get your body ready to run fast.

Once ready, run 10 x 400m repeats with a full 400m of recovery (very easy running) in between. Run the first 400m at approximately marathon pace (MP) then continue to pick up the pace running each subsequent lap 1-5 seconds/kilometre faster (about 1-2 seconds per lap) than the one before. If done right, you should finish running at or slightly faster than 5K race pace for the final lap. Once finished, be sure to follow the workout with a final 5-15 minutes of easy running and perhaps some light stretching to help hasten your recovery.

You can also use a recent race result and an online pace calculator to run various suggested race paces for each lap, starting at the marathon and working down to 5K pace or faster.

E.g. MP – 30KP – 25KP – HMP – 10MP – 15KP – 10KP – 8KP – 5KP – 3KP

Or, for a 25 Minute 5K runner: 5:40/K – 5:35/K – 5:30/K – 5:25/K – 5:20/K – 5:15/K -5:10/K – 5:05/K – 5:00/K – 4:55/K

Remember, the goal here is to run progressively faster each lap and learn what it feels like to run at different paces. Pay attention to the amount of effort that each lap takes. The first few 400s should feel “easy” but fight the desire to go faster even though you know you can. If you fail to run each lap faster than the one before it, that means you ran too fast. Try not to let this happen. Consider the workout a success if you’re able to get progressively faster.


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