Race specific work (2-7 weeks before A race): During this block, the goal is to begin to hit peak fitness. Longer intervals are implemented to build race specific fitness.
Consistency is still a critical component. Try to focus on completing each repetition within 5 to 8 seconds of each other. Leave enough energy in the tank so you can run your last interval the fastest. This teaches an athlete to finish strong, which is a trait that will be transferred into racing. You can use 1- and 2-mile repeats during this phase of training to build lactate threshold fitness and prepare you to hit peak performance leading up to your A race.
(Let's use the same example as above: 21-minute 5K runner—6:46 minute/mile)
- Week 1: 3 sets of 1 mile at 6:40 to 6:46 minutes. Total: 4,800 meters (or 2.98 miles)
- Week 2: 3 sets of 1 mile at 6:37 to 6:43 minutes. Total: 4,800 meters (or 2.98 miles)
- Week 3: 3 sets of 1 mile at 6:33 to 6:40 minutes. Total: 4,800 meters (or 2.98 miles)
- Week 4: 1 set of 1 mile at 6:33 to 6:40 minutes; 2 sets of 400 meters at 1:32 to 1:35 minutes; 4 sets of 200 meters at 45 seconds. Total: 3,200 meters (or 1.98)
- Week 5: Race week—2 sets of 400 meters at 1:30 minutes; 2 sets of 200 meters at 45 seconds or 400 meters of a jog recovery. Total: 1,200 meters (or 0.74 miles)
Keep the volume the same each week because mile repeats are demanding on the body. . Quality repetitions are the goal of these sessions. Your times should be slightly faster each week. This will teach the body to move faster than your original 5K race pace, which transfers to faster race times.
Notice the volume decreases in the last two weeks to allow the body to recover. Getting out to the track for these lower volume workouts is still important to keep the body tuned and the nervous system sharp.
Run Workout #2: Alternating Tempo/Hill sessions
Early Season: Alternating tempo and hill sessions allows runners to work on improving speed and strength. These early season tempo and hill workouts act as aerobic foundation training with some added intensity into the session.
Both runs will start off with a 15- to 25-minute aerobic run and end with a 15- to 25-minute aerobic run.
For the tempo run, during this part of the season, the exact pace is not critical. You're shooting for a slight increase in running speed from the long run. This "tempo" run adds a bit of variety to the early season training program.