Workout of the Week: The Alternating Miles Long Run

By Mario Fraioli |

The long run, for me, is a fickle beast, with the emphasis changing from week to week depending on what we’re trying to get out of it. It doesn’t always have to be long and slow; sometimes we’ll alternate paces to keep things interesting and get a little more aerobic bang for our buck per mile. The Alternating Miles Long Run, which bounces back and forth between marathon pace and the faster end of your normal training pace, is one of my favorite sessions to assign my athletes, whether they’re in marathon training or not. Here are the details: (more…)

Workout of the Week: Deek’s Quarters

By Mario Fraioli |

I first read about this workout, made popular by former Boston winner and marathon world champion Rob De Castella of Australia, in Michael Sandrock’s Running With The Legends (one of my favorite running books of all-time, for what it’s worth) when I was in high school. I first wrote about it for Competitor, now PodiumRunner, five years ago. The session’s construction is simple: 8 x 400m with a scant 200-meter float for “recovery” between repetitions. It’s efficient and effective but it ain’t easy! Here are the details: (more…)

Workout of the Week: Pardon the Uphill Interruption

By Mario Fraioli |

Long intervals or short hill sprints for your next workout? Trick question. The answer is both! I like to combine different training elements from time to time to keep workouts interesting and help us get a little something extra out of them. In this workout, we’ll “interrupt” a session of 2-mile repeats with two 10-second hill sprints at near max effort. Here are the details: (more…)

Workout of the Week: The 5 x 5 Fartlek

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: Cody Mann

In ordinary times, we’d be nearing the end of cross-country season here in the U.S., and the fall road racing schedule would also be winding down over the next 3-4 weeks. One of my favorite all-purpose workouts to assign this time of year, whether you’re shredding grass, locking into a rhythm on the roads, or going back-n-forth between the two is the 5 x 5 Fartlek. Here are the details: (more…)

Workout of the Week: The Halftime Fartlek

By Mario Fraioli |

Looking for a challenging but not-too-hard workout to knock out before your next race? Look no further than the 5-4-3-2-1 halftime fartlek. It starts fast and finishes even faster but it will be over before it really starts to grind your gears down. Here are the details: (more…)

Workout of the Week: Long Run with Surges

By Mario Fraioli |
Photo: John Jefferson

Running long this week/weekend? Those miles are going to be a sizable chunk of your total weekly volume. Don’t waste ’em! Avoid a sloppy slog and help the time pass a little quicker by throwing in a 30-60 second surge at the end of every mile. Here are the details: (more…)

Workout of the Week: Three is a Magic Number

By Mario Fraioli |

Not only does this workout share its name with one of my favorite covers of all-time, it also happens to be one of my favorite sessions to assign my athletes. In fact, if I were only allowed to use one interval—but could manipulate the intensity, recovery, and number of reps to suit my needs and desires—it’d be 3-minute repetitions. What makes them magic? Three-minute reps are short enough to keep your attention, long enough that you can’t fake your way through a set of them, and versatile enough to achieve different objectives depending on the day. Let me explain. (more…)

Workout of the Week: The Sisyphus Session

By Mario Fraioli |

I first wrote about this hill workout several years ago for Competitor (now PodiumRunner) and you can dig into its background and some of its variations here. I use some version of this short-medium-long format for all of my athletes depending on who they are, what they’re training for, and where they are in a training block. This session is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one and there’s probably a place for it in your program. Here are the key details: (more…)

Workout of the Week: The Mona Fartlek

By Mario Fraioli |

As an athlete, the Mona Fartlek is one of my favorite workouts to do; as a coach, it’s one that I assign often throughout a training cycle. What I love about this session is that it’s efficient and versatile: it can be done anywhere and you can make it as hard or an easy as you need/want it to be (to be fair, the same can be said of most workouts, but I digress). It’s named after Steve Moneghetti, a four-time Olympian in the marathon for Australia, who ran this workout weekly for years (and still does, apparently). The pickups are short and swift and the recoveries in between are more of a steady float than a slow jog (though you manipulate either of those variables to suit your needs depending on your experience level or where you’re at in training). Start to finish, the Mona Fartlek takes 20 minutes to complete. I like to use this workout with athletes who are just getting back into speedwork after some time away from it—the reps are short enough to wrap their heads around—or as a good “get after it” session for my marathoners to break up the monotony of higher mileage and longer workouts. The Mona Fartlek can also serve as a good 20-minute benchmark session every 4-6 weeks by simply comparing your total distance and overall average pace (and heart rate and power, if you’re into those sorts of things) from one attempt to the next. (more…)

Workout of the Week: Broken Tempo Run

By Mario Fraioli |

Tempo runs are a staple workout in many a runner’s training program and with good reason: they’re very effective at improving fitness, focus, discipline, and grit. They also tend to cause some of the most confusion. In general, a tempo run is defined as maintaining a steady effort for a prolonged period of time. How far and how fast should they be? It depends on who you ask. For ease of creating a common understanding here, we’re going to say your tempo runs should be 20-40 minutes worth of work at your half-marathon pace, i.e. a comfortably uncomfortable effort. Tempo runs tend to intimidate a lot of runners because of their stop-free nature, e.g. 3-8 miles at half-marathon pace is a popular prescription and anything but an easy assignment during a heavy training week. The Broken Tempo Run, which simply breaks a a traditional tempo run into smaller chunks—serves as a nice alternative, especially early in a training block when you’re just not that fit. I also find it to be a good option for runners, newbies and veterans alike, who have a hard time wrapping their heads around long workouts—taking a 30-60 second break every 5-15 minutes (n.b. I’m using 5:00 reps here for simplicity’s sake) is usually enough time to mentally regroup without affecting the intention of the workout. (more…)