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8 classic track and road workouts to build speed

These workouts aren't fancy or flashy, but they've been time-tested by thousands of athletes to prove they work

Many runners are constantly on the hunt for that magical workout that will launch them to new personal bests, but the truth is, improvement comes from consistent hard work over time. These tried-and-true workouts aren’t magical or sexy, but ask any high-level runner and they’ll tell you: these are the sessions that will get you where you want to go.

 

Track workouts

Track Workout
Photo: Matt Stetson

With a little tweaking, these sessions can be done by both beginner runners and experienced athletes. If you have access to a nearby track, we highly encourage you to utilize it — a weekly track session can do wonders for your speed development.

For those who are new to the track, a standard track is 400m, so the 400m repeats are one lap of the track, the 800s are two laps, the 1K’s are 2.5 laps and the mile is four laps.

  1. 8-10 x 400m/1 minute rest @1,500m pace (beginners, start with 4 intervals and work your way up)
  2. 6-8 x 800m/2 minutes rest @3,000m pace (beginners, start with 4 intervals)
  3. 4-6 x 1K/3 minutes rest @5K pace (beginners, start with 2 intervals)
  4. 3-6 x 1 mile/3 minutes rest @10K pace (beginners, start with 2 intervals)

Road workouts

If you’re training for a road race, it’s important to do at least some of your speed work on the road, because it’s beneficial to train on the surface you’ll be racing on. A GPS watch will be helpful to keep you on pace for these workouts, but if you don’t have one, do your best to run these by feel (you could try using RPE) to make sure you’re running at the right intensity.

  1. 4-5 x 5 minutes/2 minutes rest @5-10K pace
  2. 6-8 x 3 minutes/1-2 minute rest @5K pace
  3. 10 x 1 minute/1 minute rest @1,500m-3K pace
  4. 15-30 minute tempo run at 10K pace