Want to get faster? These two workouts break down how to get there.

speedwork july 2015

No matter where you live, you likely have a 400-meter track close to home. That’s a good thing, because the track is one of the most useful training tools for runners, from beginners to Olympians.

We hit the track for one main reason: to practice running fast. The smooth, flat and often rubberized surface makes it conducive to sure footing and quick turnover. Also, the track is precisely measured, lending itself to pace-based workouts.

If you aren’t already using this tool, challenge yourself to hop on the oval. Of course it’s not absolutely necessary to do track workouts in order to get faster, but there’s a reason why virtually all elites—from sprinters, to marathoners, to trail runners—make this a central part of their routines.

Pyramid Intervals

CHALLENGE LEVEL: Intermediate to Advanced

One of the more common mistakes runners make in track workouts is always doing repetitions of a uniform length within sessions. By combining segments of different lengths and speeds, you challenge your body in new ways. Pyramid interval workouts can be tailored to any fitness level.

GET IT DONE: INTERMEDIATE PYRAMID

  • Run 200m at sprint effort, then jog 400m
  • Run 600m slightly faster than 5K race pace, then jog 400m
  • Run 1,000m at 5K race pace, then jog 400m
  • Run 600m slightly faster than 5K race pace, then jog 400m
  • Run 200m at sprint effort, then jog 400m

ADVANCED PYRAMID

  • Run 200m at sprint effort, then jog 400m
  • Run 400m at 1-mile race pace, then jog 400m
  • Run 800m at 5K race pace, then jog 400m
  • Run 1,600m at 10K race pace, then jog 400m
  • Run 800m at 5K race pace, then jog 400m
  • Run 400m at 1-mile race pace, then jog 400m
  • Run 200m at sprint effort, then jog 400m

Mile Cut-Downs

CHALLENGE LEVEL: Intermediate to Advanced

A “cut-down” workout is any track session where the fast-running segments are all the same length and each is faster than the last. The repetitions can be any length, but 1,600 meters (four laps, or just under 1 mile) is a good distance if you’re training for a longer race, such as a half marathon or marathon.

The key is running the first repetition at a pace that allows you to run each succeeding repetition a few seconds faster. The final repetition should be run at or near your 5K race pace.

GET IT DONE: INTERMEDIATE MILE CUT-DOWNS

  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace + 20 seconds,  then jog 400m
  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace + 15 seconds,  then jog 400m
  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace + 10 seconds,  then jog 400m
  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace + 5 seconds,  then jog 400m

ADVANCED MILE CUT-DOWNS

  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace + 30 seconds, then jog 400m
  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace + 24 seconds,  then jog 400m
  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace + 18 seconds,  then jog 400m
  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace + 12 seconds,  then jog 400m
  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace + 6 seconds,  then jog 400m
  • Run 1,600m at 5K race pace, then jog 400m