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Speedwork with Canadian record holder Justyn Knight

Mix some fast splits into your weekly schedule with this track workout from one of Canada's top runners

Justyn Knight Photo by: Michael Scott/Syracuse Athletics

This year couldn’t have started off better for Justyn Knight, who beat the Canadian indoor 1,500m record in February. Knight, a multi-time NCAA champion in cross-country and on the track, ran 3:36.13 to beat the 34-year-old national record by two seconds. That was his last official race of 2020, though, as events everywhere were cancelled due to COVID-19. Knight says he spent much of the pandemic running solo in his base of Charlottesville, Va., and he only recently resumed training with his Reebok Boston Track Club teammates. Despite this strange season, Knight says he feels extremely fit and that he cannot wait for 2021. Below is one of Knight’s favourite track workouts, and although you probably won’t run it as quickly as he can, it’s definitely worth testing out for yourself. 

Photo: Benjamin Weingart

Getting ready to run

It’s winter time, so you might not have access to a track right now. If you can get to a track, that’s great, but if the one you’d normally use is covered in snow, you can run this workout on a treadmill or on the road. If you’re on the road, measure out the appropriate distances so you know when to stop each rep. Once you’re set to go, be sure to warm up properly. We know this can be tedious, but think of it as part of the workout itself. If you don’t warm up, or if you skimp on the warmup, you could hurt yourself and pay for it later. It’s better to run for 15 to 20 minutes before and after your run than to skip the warmup and cooldown and spend weeks or even months dealing with an injury. 

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The main set 

Knight’s main focus is the 5,000m (an event he raced at the world championships in 2017 and 2019), and he says his coach has told him his talents may lie in longer races like the 10K, but he prefers speedwork. “I love speed stuff,” he says. “I like 1,500m workouts.” This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as his 1,500m national record is proof he has some serious speed in his legs. The following workout is focused on speed, and Knight says he and his team run through it two to three times. 

Justyn Knight
Photo: Syracuse Athletics.

3 x 200 descending (First rep is a cruise, second at 5K race pace, third slightly faster than race pace — 30 seconds rest between each) 

800 at 5K race pace (one minute rest)

400 at 3K race pace (30 seconds rest)

300 at 1,500m race pace (30 seconds rest)

200 fast (give whatever you have left) 

In total, one round of this main set works out to 2,300m. This is a decent workout on its own, and adding in your warmup and cooldown, your mileage for the day will be over 5K. Don’t feel like you have to run through this more than once, but if you do, take two to three minutes of rest between rounds. 

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