Workout of the Week: 1 mile, 9 x 400m

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This is a multi-pace workout that was introduced to me by coach Kevin Curtin when I was running for New Balance Boston—now Battle Road Track Club—about 15 years ago. We would use it to get ready for 5K-10K racing and it’s been a go-to session for me and my athletes ever since. Here are the details:

What: Run 1 mile at your 10K pace followed by 2-1/2 to 3 minutes standing/walking recovery. Then run 3 sets of 3 x 400m with 1 minute standing/walking recovery between reps and 2-1/2 to 3 minutes standing/walking recovery between sets. Run the first set of 3 reps at your 5K pace (roughly 15-20 sec/mi faster than your 10K pace). Run the second set of 3 reps at your 3K pace (for simplicity’s sake, let’s say 4-5 seconds faster per 400 than the previous set). Run the third set of 3 reps at your 1-mile pace (again, for simplicity’s sake, let’s say 4-5 seconds faster per 400 than the previous set). 

Why: This is a great workout to use when sharpening for a 5K or 10K. It goes through a bunch of different gears, requires you to be patient and disciplined with your pacing, encourages you to close hard, and helps boost confidence before race day.

Where: Ideally, on the track! (But you can just as easily and effectively do it on the roads, a flat path, or a treadmill, too.)

When: About a week out from a key race. It’s challenging and stimulating but not a lot of volume, which means it shouldn’t take you more than a couple days to recover from it (if you’re fit!).

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