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3 snappy interval sessions for unstoppable stamina

Boost pain tolerance with these short but tough interval sessions

woman running fast at sunset

Becoming a strong runner means occasionally suffering through some discomfort, whether it’s during a long training run or a harder-than-anticipated race day. Spice up your weekly routine with some pain-tolerance-building intervals by adding a stretch session. Adaptable for any ability, a stretch workout will have you pushing your limits and will leave you spent.

A stretch session involves covering slightly more distance in each segment of a set of time-based intervals, culminating in an all-out effort in the final push. This type of workout challenges you to pay close attention to your effort level, while the gradual increase in pace builds discomfort tolerance by forcing you to speed up as your legs tire.

It’s important to pace yourself in a stretch session; choose your starting speed wisely. If you begin too fast, you won’t be able to increase your pace from there—your first interval should be hard, and your last one or two should be an all-out effort. Adjust the length (and number) of your intervals according to your ability or goals, and feel free to run stretch sessions on road, track or trail.

woman trail running
Photo: Unsplash/Greg Rosenke

Stretch interval basics

Warm up with 10-15 minutes of easy running.

Run 5-6 x 2 minutes, with each progressively getting faster—take 3-4 minutes rest as you jog back to your starting point.

Cool down with 10-15 minutes of easy running.

fast sprinter

Uphill stretch session

This session is done by effort, rather than using a GPS watch to calculate distance; you could also use markers instead of a watch, when running on the flats.

Warm up with 15 minutes of easy running.

Run fast uphill for 1 minute and drop a marker (a brightly colored sock works) at your stopping point; recover over 2 minutes as you run back to your starting point.

Run uphill fast for 1 minute again, aiming to cover slightly more distance than you did the first time. Drop a second marker at your stopping point. Recover over 2 minutes as you jog back to your starting point.

Repeat 6-10 times, depending on your fitness level, with your final rep run at full speed.

Cool down with 10-15 minutes of easy running.

running downhill

Short and sweet

Short on time? This stretch workout is perfect for those days when you’re slammed but need to get in some solid training.

Warm up with 5-10 minutes of easy running.

Run 6-8 x 1 minute of progressively harder efforts, with 2 minutes of easy running as you move back to your starting position.

Cool down with 5-10 minutes of easy running.

After any harder training session (even a short one), take a rest day or a very easy running day, and remember to hydrate well.

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