Decreasing Intervals

You might think that there’s no point in being able to run a 3 minute kilometre when your pace for a mountain race or ultra is closer to 6 minute ks or slower, but the reality is, top end speed is a limiting factor to performance. Think of it this way. If the fastest you can run 1,000m is 4 minutes, then a relaxed pace will be say 5:30min/km. However, if you’ve got speed to burn and can run 2:45, then a chilled rate will be 4 minute kilometres. So, quite simply, by making yourself speedier over a short distance your steady-state or easy pace will become faster…pretty obvious!

This is a classic session that is designed to not only improve speed, but more importantly for distance runners, teach you to run fast while in a state of fatigue. It has long been used by runners who compete in a range of events from 1,500m to ultras and comes in varying forms, however the consistent element is the gradual decrease in the length of the intervals. For the sake of this little article we are going to suggest the following session: 6mins/5/4/3/2/1/1. The recovery between each interval is half the length of the preceding rep. For example, run 6minutes hard, have 3minutes recovery, then run 5 minutes hard followed by 2:30mins recovery etc.

To make the session harder and increase the overall volume, make the recoveries an easy jog. But never forget that this is all about getting quicker with each effort so be sure to recover adequately between reps and not go out too quickly. Think of the first few efforts as being more akin to threshold pace and build into it. Focus on maintaining good technique and really hit those last two intervals.