3 Workouts to Improve Your Run

As the season progresses and we get a few races under the belt, we find a reason to want to go faster. Whether it's getting a personal best, winning your age group or picking off that nemesis, you want that little extra bit.

The run is the prime place for quick improvement without drastic changes to your program.

Here are three great workouts for building killer speed over the Olympic distance run:

Mile Repeats

Frequency: Once per week.

Workout: 6x1 mile or 10x1K or 5x2K

If you have not done anything like this before, you should begin with fewer repeats (such as 4x1 mile and build up to the full volume of this workout). You may consider choosing a different rep-to-distance format each week to avoid monotony. Also, you don't have to do this on a track. If you have a park or road with a measured distance, this would be preferred since--as a triathlete--you won't be running on a track.

Rest: 1:1; in other words if your interval pace is seven minutes, then your rest should be at least five minutes and up to seven minutes.

Pace: 10K pace or slightly faster. Do not exceed faster than 100 percent VO2 max pace. If your splits are not consistent and you slow down throughout the workout, you are running too fast. Start conservatively and build into it. It is OK to speed up, but if you start slowing down you are missing the objective the workout.

Purpose: Physiologically this type of workout serves to build aerobic capacity--make you more efficient at race pace. You can either run faster over a given distance or you can run further at a given pace.

When I was in college running under legendary coach Joe Vigil at Adams State College, every Thursday was "Religion Day." Thursday was mile repeat day. And you could count on them every single week of the season "religiously." We knew it was on when coach would lumber out of his truck, with a stopwatch around his neck and announce, "Gentleman, today we get tough." However, "Religion Day" may also have meant a bit of prayer on our part hoping that just once we might have a week off. Somehow that never happened.

As a freshman, Thursday was not my favorite day of the week. In fact, I dreaded it. I would stress the entire day waiting for 2 o'clock to roll around. When it finally did, I made the rookie mistake of going out too hard early in the workout in trying to hang with post-collegiate pro runners and our upper-classmen (most of whom were All-Americans, National Champions or both).

I would end up suffering like a dog though the second half of the workout, which totally destroyed the workout's whole purpose.

As I matured and eventually became a triathlete, I grew to love mile repeats for the simple reason that they work. And they will make you fast. It's a tough workout--one that will take a few sessions to get right--but nothing will give you the strength and efficiency to finish strong like good ol' mile repeats.


Frequency: Once per week in addition to mile repeats. Don't do in the same week as hills.

Workout: Four sets of four 400's followed by four 200's. As in, run four 400's then four 200's. Rest five minutes and repeat three more times. The 16 400's and 16 200's combine for a six mile total workout distance. This workout can be mentally demanding. It is a good idea to start with half the workout (2 sets 4x400, 4x200), and add a set each time you do the workout.

Rest: One to two minute jogs for the 400's. Jog an easy 200 for the 200's. Take five minutes very easy between each set.

Pace: Run these faster than 10K pace and closer to what you can do for 5K. This will feel slow early in the workout but will catch up with you.

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