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Your Weekly Running Workout: Alternating Repeats

We’re continuing our weekly workout series with a repeat workout to help you practice running at your target race pace. 800 meter (½ mile) repeats are a popular 5K workout, as you are able to run your goal 5K pace in manageable intervals. Interval workouts such as these stress your aerobic power and therefore improve your VO2max, which is essential for becoming a faster runner in shorter distances. This workout puts a twist on the typical 800 meter repeats to help you run faster and improve your cadence.

The 800 meter repeats are run at a pace that is slightly faster than your current 5K pace – about 10-15 seconds per mile faster than your current 5K pace, or roughly your goal 5K pace. After a recovery jog, you then run 200 meters at your mile race pace, which is approximately 30-35 seconds per mile faster than your current 5K pace.

The Workout

  • Warm up with 1-2 miles of easy running, followed by dynamic stretches and drills such as high knees and butt kicks.
  • Run 4-5 repeats of:
    • 800 meters at 10 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace
    • 400 meters very easy running
    • 200 meters at mile pace
    • 200 meters easy
  • Cool down with 1 mile of easy running.

Beginner runners should do 4 repeats, while runners with more training experience can do 5 repeats. Regardless of your experience level, jog the recovery intervals at a very light effort to allow your breathing to return to normal before the next interval.

As with any track workout, you want to use the inner lanes for the hard intervals and the outer lanes for any easy running, including the recovery intervals. Be courteous of other runners on the track. You can do the warmup and cool down either on the track in the outer lanes or on the roads.

You can also complete this workout off the track. 800 meters equals ½ mile and 200 meters is ⅛ of a mile (approximately 0.12). There’s no need to be precise on the shorter interval – anywhere from 0.10 to 0.15 will still work the same physiological system.

Track the workout with four repeats here and the workout with five repeats here. Our Audio Cues will tell you when to speed up or slow down and help guide you through the workout.

Laura Norris

About the author:
Laura Norris

Laura Norris is a certified running coach, distance runner, and blogger over at This Runner's Recipes. She loves helping runners achieve their personal best through providing useful, well-researched information on running and nutrition. Beyond running, Laura enjoys craft beer, hiking with her husband and dog, and cooking.

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