How to Use Track Workouts in Endurance Training

Long Intervals

Long intervals range from 1600 meters (one mile) to 3000 meters in distance. Because they are longer than middle-distance intervals, long intervals are necessarily run more slowly, but they are not intended to be slow. Typically, they are run at the individual runner's approximate 10K race pace. This pace is close to lactate threshold pace for many runners, or the speed above which blood lactate levels increase rapidly. It was formerly believed that this spike in blood lactate hastened muscle fatigue. It is now known that fatigue at this intensity is cause by other factors.

What has not changed is that lactate threshold pace is a very good predictor of race performance, and training at or near lactate threshold intensity is a very effective way to increase lactate threshold pace. This is largely because training at this intensity increases the body's capacity to recycle lactate for muscle fuel.

Because of their length and intensity, it only takes a handful of long intervals to stimulate a strong training effect. Even advanced runners should seldom do more than a total of 10K of fast running in these workouts. Here is a selection of long interval workout formats:

Beginner Middle-Distance Interval Workouts

  • 4 x 1600 meters
  • 3 x 2000 meters
  • 3 x 2400 meters

Intermediate Middle-Distance Interval Workouts

  • 5 x 1600 meters
  • 4 x 2000 meters
  • 4 x 2400 meters
  • 2 x 3000 meters

Advanced Middle-Distance Interval Workouts

  • 6 x 1600 meters
  • 5 x 2000 meters
  • 4 x 2400 meters
  • 3 x 3000 meters
  • 3
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  • 4

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