5 Essential Run Interval Workouts

As promised, we have put together some 'key' interval workouts* to incorporate into your run training. Catered towards Olympic and Sprint distance triathlons/5Ks and 10Ks, these are great if you're crunched for time as they are incredibly efficient and get you working hard. If you can only get in 2-3 runs per week, make sure you add in one of these! Warm up is always the same: 10 min jog followed by hip mobility and drills. (Stay tuned for a future post where we go into detail about the run warm up).
*To learn more about why interval training is a good idea, check out our post on the Benefits of Interval Training.


  Fartlek mixes hard and easy efforts

Fartlek mixes hard and easy efforts

Workout #1:    3 on, 2 off

     A staple workout you can do anytime, anywhere, this encompasses the core of Fartlek (speed play) training. Post warm up, complete 3-5 sets (depending on race distance) of:  3 mins at a 'hard' effort (approx 85%), and 2 mins at a relaxed pace. Great for getting you used to running on tired legs, and improving your aerobic capacity.


  Drive your arms on your hill reps

Drive your arms on your hill reps

Workout #2: Hill 4 x 4 x 4 Reps

     Find a hill with a 4-8% incline which takes you approx 1 min 30 to run to the top at a good speed. After your warm up, do 4 x 1 min 30 sec repeats at 85% effort, with a nice easy jog back down to the bottom. After the 4th rep, do 4 x 1 min at 90%, and 4 x 30 sec at 95%. Stick with this every week in the off season and you'll be amazed how much stronger you'll get.


  Tempo runs is critical to speed endurance

Tempo runs is critical to speed endurance

Workout #3: Tempo Run

     Critical to developing speed endurance, your tempo run is running at 30 secs per mile slower than your goal race pace. So, if you're aiming for 7.00 min mile pace, you would aim to run your tempo at 7.30 pace. Make sure your goal is reasonable! The workout is very simple, but tough: 20 mins at tempo pace. You'll likely find the first 5-10 mins easy and wonder what the rage is all about, but quickly discover that it gets much harder!


  Combine tempo with speed for a competitive edge!

Combine tempo with speed for a competitive edge!

Workout #4: Sizzling Tempo/Speed Combo

     When I was running in college for the BC Eagles, our brilliant coach Randy Thomas used to make us do this during cross country season. The combination of tempo and fast reps worked wonders for building strength and developing speed. To start, do a 2 Km at Tempo pace as described above. Take 2 min rest, and then do 3 x 1 Kms at 90% effort with 1 min rest between each. Enjoy!


  Cut down 800s: A great workout to do with teammates

Cut down 800s: A great workout to do with teammates

Workout #5: Cut down 800s

     The only one of these key workouts you need to use a track for are descending 800s. Aim for 6-8 of them with 1 minute static rest, starting at tempo pace (remember, that's slower than your goal race pace!), getting quicker by 10 secs per 800. Similar to the tempo run, the first couple will feel like you're cruising, but they'll quickly get harder.

Most importantly of all, make sure you do your hard workouts hard, and your easy runs at an easy effort! Sounds simple.. But you'd be amazed at how many people overlook this critical piece and end up running at a very similar pace for all of their runs. Put the effort in when you need to and take the time to recover; you'll reap the rewards!


- Coach Medena 
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