As most runners know, doing some kind of speed training can really help your race times improve. Interval training can improve your VO2 Max, increase your lactate threshold, correct your form, and is an important part of your strategy to improve your overall running performance.
Many speed workouts are goal specific. Generally speaking, your speed training for a 5k will not look the same as for a marathon. Different distances have different physiological requirements, and focusing on the workout that will help you achieve your goal is important.
The beauty of this workout is, that while it is most specific to race distances of 5-15k, it has benefits for any distance, even the marathon. This workout will teach a) Acceleration, b) Sustaining Race Pace, and c) Improve your finishing kick. All within a simple 600 meter track interval.
The Speed Workout
You will be running 6-10 600 meter intervals. This workout is best performed on a track. Six hundred meters is one and a half times around the track. Warm up for at least one mile (four laps). Perform a few drills, like skips, high knees, butt kicks. Find a measurable starting point, so that you can clearly measure out 200 meters. Each interval is divided into three equal parts:
Part 1 (200 meters): Accelerate. As you start running, you want to quickly accelerate to your race pace (this will depend on your goals). You don’t want to exceed your pace, just find that point and that effort level, that you can sustain for your race distance.
Part 2 (200 meters): Sustain. Now that you’ve reached it, hold that pace for the next 200 meters. It should feel hard, but you should be able to maintain the pace for the entire distance.
Part 3 (200 meters): Kick. This is the point where you are going to finish strong. As you accelerate toward an imaginary finish line, visualize the people you can pass as you speed to the finish. Your stride should be relaxed and naturally long, your arms should be pumping, and your feet should feel light. Run all the way through the finish before decelerating.
Recover: Walk/Jog the 200 meters back to your starting point.