Runners World Articles: Archives
Take Your Pick - Four winning workouts from my
Bored with the same old speed sessions? The following variations
are guaranteed to spice up your training and leave you running stronger
and smoother. Taken together, they'll help you develop strength,
speed, and stamina. Be sure to warm up thoroughly before you start
these workouts, and increase intensity and duration gradually.
Uphills (for strength): I ran hills for the first month
of my high school racing seasons because my coach told me to. By
my senior year, I realized most of my best performances had occurred
during the first part of each season. Playing a hunch, I continued
hill training throughout my senior year - and enjoyed my best season
ever. As I later prepared for the Olympics, I returned to the hills,
and still feel that I benefited more from them than from my track
What to do: Choose a hill that's moderate enough that you
can run strong over the top. The slope shouldn't be so long or steep
that it wipes you out. A hill 100 to 200 meters long works well.
After warming up, start with two to three hill repeats. Walk back
down for recovery. Work your way up to six to eight repeats. To
build endurance, run a longer hill (300 to 600 meters). Start each
very slowly and build your pace as you move up and over the hill.
Downhills (for speed): Runners have long used downhill running
to improve speed, but it's risky to go too fast. Even slight flaws
in your foot placement or leg mechanics can result in aches, pains,
or injuries. So stay smooth and in control. My favorite use of downhill
running is after a fairly hard speed workout on the track or road.
Running down a slight grade will help you maintain a fast pace when
What to do: Pick a gentle hill, and run only two short repeats
the first day. Ease into a quick downhill pace, then jog or walk
back uphill. Add one or two repeats to each workout until you're
running six to eight short ones (100 to 500 meters), or two to three
long ones (600 to 1000 meters). Keep your stride normal and your
feet close to the ground, and slow down at the first sign that your
form is faltering.
Negative-split workout (for strong finishes): By starting
a little slowly in your key speed workouts and speeding up during
the last couple of repeats, you'll learn to do the same in a race.
It's never a good idea to finish a workout running all-out, so pace
What to do: If you're running a 10 x 400-meter workout,
for example, run the first three or four repeats 1 to 2 seconds
per lap slower than your goal workout pace, the middle three repeats
at goal pace, the middle three repeats at goal pace, and the final
repeats 1 to 2 seconds faster.
"Hang-on" workout (for stamina): One summer during my competitive
years, I trained with various running clubs throughout Europe. They
all ran the middle of their speed repetitions hard. Let's say the
group was running segments of about 1000 meters. After an easy 100
meters, the leader would assume race pace for about 300 meters,
further increase the pace for 300 meters, and return to race pace
for 300 meters. That final segment helps you maintain pace when
What to do: If you're new to speed sessions, run repeats
of 400 meters. If you've run some speedwork, your distance could
be 400 to 800 meters. Experienced speed trainers could do repeats
of 800 to 1600 meters. Run these distances in thirds: the first
and final third at about race pace, the middle third a bit faster.
Recover fully between repeats.
World, November 2000, p. 40
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