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Break up monotonous track workouts with “broken” intervals

Canadian elite mid-distance runner Sasha Gollish shares her suggestion on a favourite workout that any athlete can do

When it comes to deciding on what type of workout to do, the options are nearly endless. There’s intervals, hills, tempo or even a fartlek. And even if you do decide to do one over the other, where do you do it, when and why? We reached out to elite distance runner Sasha Gollish and asked her to share one of her favourite workouts.

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The workout: “Broken” intervals

This is a workout to run on a track and the goal is to run a 400m lap just slightly faster than half marathon pace then rest/recover for 100m before continuing with the interval. Although you can choose any distance (that divides by 400), 1600 or 2K intervals work best. Again, the idea is to run 400m hard with a short 100m jog in between until you’ve completed the entire (1600 or 2000m) interval. Ideally, you’ll do several sets, taking a 400m recovery lap between sets. On paper, the workout looks like 3-5 x (4-5 x 400m with 100m jog)/400m.

When and where?

When: If you slow this one down by a few seconds per rep, it’s a really great workout to do at the start of a season. You can also do it during a marathon cycle as one of your quicker weekly workouts or even as your signature workout by doing several sets of longer intervals.

Where: Definitely best to run this on a track, but it can also be done on the roads or even trails assuming you can roughly keep track of the 400m of faster running and the 100m easy recovery in between. Because the idea is to run the intervals consistently, best to also keep the run route relatively flat.

Why this workout?

Especially if you’re running alone, this workout is a good one to do because you only have to ‘get through’ 400m before you get a break. Because the interval chunks are smaller it makes it a little bit more digestible and is less mentally challenging than running long intervals consecutively. Also with the short intervals, you can have a water bottle or two and drop them off to take some small sips when it’s hot out. It also is a sneaky one that always keeps you moving so the total distance really adds up. By the last set you should feel it in your legs but you do bounce back pretty quickly and because you’re not running at top speed, your injury risk is lower too.

Other considerations

The #1 tip with this one is not to run that first set too fast. You’ll likely feel really good and want to go faster but that’s not the point, the goal of this workout is consistency, as well as coming back feeling fresh the next day. You can also adjust the workout to make it longer or shorter depending on your needs. You could do sets of 3 x 400 for broken 1200s or even 6-10 x 400 for broken longer intervals. And don’t forget if running on a track that you can run in the opposite direction on alternating sets to help protect your knees.