One-kilometer repeats are a pretty standard workout for many runners training for the mile all the way up to the marathon, and no matter how you slice ’em, they tend to make for a tough session. You can do a handful of them at a really hard effort with a generous amount of recovery between intervals to blow out the tubes or rack up a lot of reps on short rest to build specific strength for longer distances. Either way, a kilometer is long enough to demand your full focus and it’s hard to fake your way through a set, whether you’re doing two reps or twenty. One of my favorite variations of this workout is to run most of the interval at 5K or 10K pace and “kick” the final 200-400 meters to simulate the end of a race. Here are the details:
What: 3-6 x 1K with the first 800m at 5K pace and the final 200m “kicking” at 15-30 seconds/mile (or ~9-18 seconds/K) faster than 5K pace OR 5-10 x 1K with the first 600m at 10K pace and the final 400m “kicking” at 20-40 seconds/mile (or ~12-24 seconds/K) faster than 10K pace. The recovery between intervals for both workouts is 3 minutes of walking/slow jogging.
Why: The purpose of this workout is two-fold: 1. To work on pacing and practice keeping things under control for most of the interval. 2. To simulate the end of a race and teach yourself to shift gears off what is already a pretty hard pace.
Warmup/Cooldown: Warm up before the workout with 15-30 minutes of easy running followed by a set of drills and 4-6 x 20-second strides (i.e., accelerate for 5 seconds, spend the next 10 seconds at near-top speed, and then gradually decelerate to a jog over the final 5 seconds. Catch your breath for 40-60 seconds and then repeat 3-5 more times). Cool down after the workout with 5-15 minutes of easy running.
Where: Ideally this workout is done on a track where you can keep a close eye on pace and have specific points where you start your kick but it can also be done on the roads with the aid of distance markers or a GPS watch. The treadmill works for this one, too.
When: I like to assign this workout about 3-4 weeks out from a key race to get a nice training effect from it but I’ll also use a lighter version of it (i.e. lower end of the rep-range described above) 3-4 days out from a key race as a sharpening session.