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Get your stamina soaring with this progression run

This workout will maximize your ability to run longer at a faster pace

Running at a steady pace for a long period of time is the distance runner’s ultimate challenge. Stamina-based workouts help runners strengthen this ability, focusing on lactate threshold (LT) improvement and learning to run by effort. Both of these are essential skills when racing on trails or hilly road courses, where pace may not be reflective of effort.

Blood lactate is a byproduct created when muscle cells use glucose as fuel. Formerly thought of as a waste product, we now know lactate is used for a multitude of things within the body, including brain function.

If you’re running at a high intensity, your body might not be able to recycle or ‘clear’ the accumulated lactate, and you’ll experience heavy legs, the need to slow down, and burning muscles.

Stamina-based workouts can help shift the lactate threshold (LT), helping you run faster for longer.  Stamina-based workouts are different from speedwork–they’re all about pushing yourself to run longer at a specific pace or effort. A key factor in improving your LT through a workout like this is to hold back from running too quickly.

Stamina-based training focuses on working at or near a pace you can maintain for one hour, roughly where LT is attained for many athletes.

The workout

Thirds progression runs are split into thirds, as the name suggests. This workout begins at a comfortable, conversational pace; however, as the workout progresses, you work your way through training zones, from an endurance-based zone into one that is stamina-based.

If you’re new to progression runs, start with a 45 to 60 minute run. More experienced runners can begin at 90 to 120 minutes.


First third: Run at a very slow, easy pace

Second third: Increase your pace to a manageable, but steady speed

Final third: Increase your speed to between marathon and half-marathon effort, or roughly 80 per cent to 90 per cent of max heart rate

This is an optimal workout for dialing in your sense of pace and effort, as you move from one training zone (or effort level) to the next.

Remember to hydrate well, and use the day after a hard or long effort for recovery or easy running.