You can be an experienced runner with hundreds or even thousands of intervals behind you, but we all have those days when we feel at a complete loss as far as what we should do for our speed workout. The intention of this blog post is to be your go-to resource on those days – a post to which you can return and then close your eyes, point and have your workout picked out a second later. We’ve filled it with our favorite workout runs and made sure to include a wide variety of sessions, with everything from short 200 m intervals to longer threshold type ones, and hope you’ll find some you like, too, and will add to your personal arsenal. Interval type running sessions should always be paired with a proper warm up and cool down (2-4k for each is a good benchmark), and the active time running at higher intensity should preferably be somewhere around 25-40 min. You’ll see a combination of time and distance based workouts, and that’s all in order – we like to switch things up and enjoy focusing on different parameters different times.
For pace pointers, it’s helpful to have an idea as to what your best 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon times would be. You might know your current PBs already or be able to guess – either way, a rough estimate will help in determining what pace you should aim to do some of the workouts below. Where it doesn’t say anything, you’ll be looking at shorter distances where you’ll be doing more of an “all out” type of effort or some other goal that will be clearly stated.
Session 1: 5×8 min
5×8 min, 2 min recovery. For the 8 min intervals, aim for your 10k pace. Drop down about 30-45 sec/k for the 2 min recovery – in other words, you remain running with a decent effort even during the recovery. The goal here is to not let the heart rate go down too much in between.
Session 2: Pyramid #1
Pyramid of 200-400-600-800-1000-800-600-400-200 meters. Here, your pace sweet spot is where you go as hard as you can per each leg to be fit to do the same over the next one (not the same pace, but the same perceived effort). Makes sense? That means you shouldn’t bolt the 200 and the 400 only to be exhausted and have to jog the 600. You do 200 meters of recovery jog in between each interval.
Session 3: Every other k
5x1k on/off. You alternate between 10k and half marathon pace (roughly) every other kilometer for a total of 10k.
Session 4: 3000-2000-1000-500-500
3000-2000-1000-500-500 meters with 2 min jogging recovery following 3-2-1k and 1 min following the 500s. 10k pace for the 3-2-1, sub 5k pace for the 500s.
Session 5: 10x1k
10x1k, 100 m walking rest in between each. 5k pace, and shoot for even paces all the way through! That typically means bracing yourself over the first few legs to be able to run strong the whole session through.
Session 6: Double 5k
2x5k with 10 min recovery jog in between. Here, you want to beat your own time! The goal is to run the second 5k faster than the first (without holding back or making it easy for yourself by going slow then).
Session 7: 30 sec intervals
2x(10×30/30 sec) intervals. You’ll alternate between all out effort and slightly slower every 30 seconds for 10 min (10x all out, 10x slightly slower) and then jog for 5 min, before you repeat 10 min of 30/30 sec again. Feel free to add on a third set eventually.
Session 8: Pyramid #2
1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 min, with 1 min jog in between each. A longer, harder pyramid workout than #2 but same intention. Aim for 10k pace for the 3-4-5-4-3 legs and shoot for 5k pace for the shorter ones.
Session 9: 2x3k + 2×1.5k
2x3k, 2×1.5k. 10k pace. 2 min recovery jog in between the 3k legs, followed by 5 min recovery jog before you move on to the 1.5k. Do 2 min recovery jog in between those as well.
Session 10: 6x(90-60-30 sec)
10 min at 10k pace, followed by 6x(90-60-30 sec) at a faster pace but one that you can sustain throughout. 30 sec recovery jog between after 90 and 60, and 1 min in between sets.
Session 11: Hill workout
Hill workout: Find a (runnable) hill and do either 10×90 sec or 20×45 sec depending on length of hill. Easy jog back down. Follow hill repeats by doing 15 min of half marathon pace.
Session 12: 4x3k
4x3k at half marathon pace, 3 min recovery jog in between.
Session 13: Backside of the pyramid
2x1500m, 2x1000m, 2x800m, 2x600m, 2x400m. Start out at 10k pace and increase as per ability throughout. Recovery jog of 2 min after 1500, 1000 and 800, 1 min after 600 and 400.
Session 14: 4x1500m
4x1500m, where you aim to go a little slower than 10k pace for the first, increase progressively and finish the last one a little quicker. A great exercise in pacing yourself and not going out too hard! Do 2 min recovery jog in between.
Session 15: 8k + 6k + 4k + 2k
8k, 6k, 4k, 2k at marathon pace, 3 min recovery walk or jog in between.
A quick note before we let you go: remember that any speed work efforts will reward you and your running progression a thousandfold, but also that you can remain a recreational runner with zero interest in improvement or intervals and find lifelong happiness too – point is, everyone is different, you do you and running with joy matters the most. With that said, you can reap enormous benefits if you indeed seek to become faster and able to endure more by adding a legit speed work session weekly. If you have any questions, we’re always happy to answer them – drop us an email or use the comment section below to get in touch!