Interval Training: Just a Dash for Success

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Long Intervals
These are performed at 5K to 10K race pace for periods of four to more than eight minutes. Because these long intervals are really "tempo-like" in character, the rest interval is 50 percent or less of the repetition duration. As you might expect, the number of reps is low, with as few as two needed to complete a workout, but the overall mileage of the fast parts is moderate to high.

The occasional time trial of about two-thirds the distance of an upcoming race (e.g., a two-mile test before a 5K) can be counted as a long-interval session.

The Bigger Big Picture

Taking into account all of the guidelines given in this three-part series, here is a sample six-week rotation of interval workouts for a 3:30 marathoner, listed alongside the other two types of workouts included in each week. Such a runner would be expected to hit times of around 13:20 for two miles, 21:30 for 5K, and 45:00 for 10K.

Those who do long runs on Sunday mornings should do their medium-long run (MLR) on Tuesday afternoon at the earliest and their interval session on Friday or, for those who recover quickly, Thursday evening. In any case, try to allow 48 to 60 hours between longer or more intense sessions.

Notice that the shorter intervals correlate with lower-mileage weeks, allowing you the chance for a little more needed "snap," while the longer ones fall into higher-mileage weeks. You don't have to do it this way, but it seems to be effective for those who try it.










Week 1


10 w/ last 2 in 14:10



12 x 400 in 1:30, 1:30 jog




Week 2


11 in 1:40:00 to 1:45:00



4 x 1200 in 4:55, 3:00 jog




Week 3


13 w/ last 4 in 29:40



3 x 1600 in 6:45, 3:00 jog




Week 4


11 w/ last 1.5 in 10:30



16 x 300 in 1:05, 1:00 jog




Week 5


12 in 1:48:00 to 1:53:00



5 x 1000 in 4:00, 2:45 jog




Week 6


14 w/ last 5 in 37:00



3 x 2000 in 8:40, 3:00 jog





In general, triathletes should aim to do one run a week in addition to these key sessions, shooting for 30 to 45 minutes at a very gentle pace.

With all of the base-period training elements now firmly in hand, you should be in an excellent position to make the run one of your strongest disciplines and gain a considerable edge by making the most of the time you spend hitting the roads.