Workout #3: 400-meter Repeats
When beginning to ramp into a new training cycle, a runner should be cautious not to begin their 400-meter repeat sessions too aggressively. This is one of the most common mistakes seen in runners of all ages; coming off a rest or planned break and attempting to resume their interval sessions with the same tempo and vigor seen at their peak of fitness months earlier. When starting a training cycle, begin your 400-meter repeats much more contained, along the lines of your 10K race pace or even a bit slower, with shorter recovery (as little as only 75 to 90 seconds between each) to emphasize strength.
As your fitness improves over the weeks and months, your 400-meter repeats should begin to be quicker—to about 5K goal pace, and consequently you should allow yourself a bit more recovery between these quicker, more intense intervals. As an example, below is a progression of a runner whose target is an 8:00 pace 5K.
First 6 weeks of training (400-meter repeats every other week):
10 x 400m (1:20 rest), targeting 2:05 to 2:08 (8:20 to 8:32 pace)
Final 6 weeks of training:
10 x 400 (1:45 rest) targeting 1:56 to 2:02 (7:44 to 8:08 pace)
As you can see, this runner is given more recovery later on, allowing his body to recover after the more intense intervals. It's worth noting that 400-meter repeats need not necessarily be run on a track. If you don't have access to a track, you can do this workout on a grass field, bike path or even dirt road.
While many runners like to mix their workouts throughout the year, many enjoy similar sessions from January to December. If you do the same workouts throughout the year, vary the emphasis and how your workouts are implemented.Sign up for your next race.