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Try this unique interval workout to become a better racer

Downshift intervals teach you how to adjust your pace mid-race

In an ideal race, you start out running at your goal pace and you run that exact speed until you reach the finish line. Of course, a real race rarely plays out like that, especially if you’re running on a course with undulating terrain (hello, trail runners) or rolling hills. Downshift intervals are a great way to practice adjusting your pace mid-run and teach you how to recover your pace after a burst of harder effort.

4 workouts to do in the off-season

Example workouts

The idea behind downshift intervals is simple: start your interval at a pace that is intentionally much faster than your goal pace, then settle into your goal pace for the remainder of the interval. Here are a couple of examples:

For a 5K or 10K: Run 30 seconds at your 1,500m pace, then slow down to 10K pace for 2.5 minutes, so the entire interval is 3 minutes in length. Repeat this 4-8 times (depending on your fitness level), with 1-1.5 minutes of rest between each interval.

For a 1/2 marathon or marathon: Run for one minute at your 5K pace, then slow down to half-marathon pace for 4 minutes. Repeat this 4-8 times (depending on the length of your race), with two minutes rest between each interval.

Build pain tolerance with stretch intervals

While these are just two examples of a downshift interval workout, you can apply this structure to any workout where you’re running multiple intervals of the same length. Of course, not every workout should be done this way (there are benefits to practicing holding a consistent pace throughout an entire workout), but this style of training can inject a bit of fun into your speedwork and help you practice a different race-specific skill.