One-mile repeats are a bread-and-butter session for distance runners prepping to race 5K, the marathon, or anything in between. Every once in a while I like to mix up the intensity and recovery a bit to work on both stamina and speed while also keeping my athletes more engaged throughout the workout.
Not every workout will leave you hunched over with your hands on your knees afterward—in fact, most of them shouldn’t—but every once in a while you just need to go out and make yourself as uncomfortable as possible.
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.
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.