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Category: Speed Training

Speed training: 200m repeats and we steal your recovery time AGAIN

Speed training: 200m repeats and we steal your recovery time AGAIN

It seems that speed training sessions with evil decreasing recovery periods are like buses. You wait for a while, and then two come at once…

Following on from last week’s recovery time stealer, it was a similar protocol at Waverley Harriers this time. As I did not have a mid-week appointment in the world of refereeing, I was able to go to the actual session (thanks Gary!) and take part. It was a strong turnout of around thirty other runners.

This one was really interesting as the session was dynamic, with the recovery period changing over time.

The 25 minute session started like this:

  • Run 200m FAST.
  • Walk 200m.
  • Repeat!

However, over time a yellow cone was moved round the track, splitting the 200m recovery zone into walk / jog areas. Initially, mostly walking (e.g. 190m) but by the end of the session, you were having to jog pretty much all of it.


Now, this sort of training is right up my street, due to it matching the ebb and flow of football matches when refereeing (bursts of activity followed by calm). It was still a strong effort to keep up the fast runs by the end of the 25 minutes.

Let’s take a look at the ‘fast’ split times:

  1. 0:35
  2. 0:33
  3. 0:34
  4. 0:36
  5. 0:35
  6. 0:38
  7. 0:37
  8. 0:38
  9. 0:40
  10. 0:40
  11. 0:43
  12. 0:41

You can see how the reduction in recovery took its toll….

One of the more enjoyable and challenging speed sessions I’ve done, for sure. Not only that, I set a 200m PB (according to Strava) in the process!

Speed training: 6 x 3 minutes – and we steal your recovery time…

Speed training: 6 x 3 minutes – and we steal your recovery time…

Typically, the amount of recovery time you have during a speed training session is fixed between reps. Not the case for this particularly evil protocol (thanks Waverley Harriers!)

Due to my midweek game, I did not get the chance to go along to my running club to do the session with everyone else. I picked up the details from Strava, and did it on Thursday lunchtime instead.

It’s very simple:

  • 6 x 3 minute runs (‘fast’ pace, e.g. target 5k)
  • Recovery varies each time:
    • After 1st rep: 02:30
    • After 2nd rep: 02:00
    • After 3rd rep: 01:30
    • After 4th rep: 01:00
    • After 5th rep: 00:30 (!)

For me, 3 minutes is roughly 800m (2 laps) so I set myself the target of doing that for each rep. As the rest periods shortened, this obviously got a lot harder to achieve!

Here’s how my distance and pacing worked out (Remember that 4:00 km/h is the target pace for me to hit a 20 minute 5k).

  1. 800m (3:44 km/h)
  2. 830m (3:37 km/h)
  3. 790m (3:48 km/h)
  4. 760m (3:56 km/h)
  5. 720m (4:09 km/h)
  6. 730m (4:05 km/h)

The collapse is pretty obvious! I also felt a little tired right from the beginning (not ideal sleep this week!). I shook this out of my legs for the 2nd rep, but I couldn’t win against the rest periods decreasing. NOT THIS TIME anyway.

Definitely a challenging session, although I would class it as more of a speed endurance one. Certainly one for strengthening the mind and keeping pushing on as well…

Speed training: Enduring 300 metres

Speed training: Enduring 300 metres

Who needs a whole athletics track when just 300m of it will do? Especially when 300m repeats are good enough for Mo Farah

This week’s speed training protocol, courtesy of Waverley Harriers (although I missed the original session so was doing this as homework!), was as follows:

  • Run 20 minutes of 300m fast / 100m jog recovery
  • 3 x 400m (2 minute recoveries)

This translated to 11 reps for me. As my legs were still a bit heavy from the previous day’s tempo run (a ‘hard’ session), I didn’t want to follow this up immediately with another hard one. I skipped the 3 x 400m stage for this reason as I had that feeling I had done enough. This is my overtraining ‘spider sense’ that I have learned to pay attention to!

Given the relatively short recovery periods, and jogging them rather than just stopping, this was more of an endurance training session. That is adding a bit of variety to my training programme, and also useful for the football refereeing part of my fitness.

300m repeats are a staple of Alberto Salazar, who has coached (among many others) Mo Farah, so definitely worth a look!

Speed Training: Just 5 Minutes

Speed Training: Just 5 Minutes

Last week’s speed training session, again courtesy of Waverley Harriers (albeit I was playing ‘catch up’ later in the week), was time based.

Here’s the simple protocol:

  • 4 x 5 minute reps
  • 2 minutes rest between reps

For pacing, it was the staple ‘Your target 5k pace’. Because of my current sub-20 5k goal, this meant in practice it was pretty much the same session for me as last week’s 4 x 1200m workout.

My legs were still a little heavy from my longer run the previous day, and I wanted to be consistent with each rep, rather than going out too fast then slowing down later. I think I did okay… (these are my km pacings):

  • 4:03
  • 4:03
  • 4:02
  • 4:04
Session done – RING THAT BELL!

For the rest period, I have typically been doing a walking rest. I’m wondering whether I should switch this to a ‘very gentle jog’ rest instead. This is something I need to do a bit of research on!

I’m still feeling good about all the recent training – no suffering afterwards or the next day, which is something that has changed over the last couple of months of being back at it. For now, I want to continue being consistent — especially with the football season about to start, so I will need to mix in about 4 or games each month as well.

Staple Speed: 4 x 1200m

Staple Speed: 4 x 1200m

Tuesday night is speed training night with the wonderful folks of Waverley Harriers! This time around it was very much a staple workout in the form of four 1200m repeats.

Runner’s World has a good summary regarding this distance:

Even if you have no intention of ever racing a mile, repeat 1200s offer some unique training benefits. Like mile repeats, 1200s are long enough to push you above lactate threshold and near your VO2 max, which improves your ability to buffer lactic acid and increases your aerobic capacity. But because you can run 1200s at a slightly faster pace than miles, you get even closer to VO2 max and reap even more cardiovascular gains.

The protocol was:

  • 4 x 1200m
  • 90 second rest between each repeat

Nice and simple!

Given my trend to go off too fast and suffer later on, I deliberately worked on pacing myself better. Given my target pace was ‘fast 5k’ I stuck to that rather than ‘go even faster 5k’ !

Splits ended up as follows:

  1. 4:56
  2. 4:53
  3. 4:55
  4. 5:05

So, nearly achieved the consistency I was after.

Overall, it felt like a strong workout, which is just as well, considering it is my last speed session before my refereeing fitness test on Sunday!

Speed training: 1000m repeats and new PBs!

Speed training: 1000m repeats and new PBs!

My weekly speed training session was courtesy of the lovely Waverley Harriers. There was a strong turnout on a lovely Tuesday evening, and I am very pleased with how the session went.

Following a warm-up, the protocol was:

  • 5 x 1000m
  • 2 minute rest period between each run

This meant shorter runs with a shorter rest period compared to the previous week’s 1200m session.

Interestingly, most people seemed to cut the rest periods short, starting the next interval once they had completed walking to the start point again. I was taking the line of sticking to the protocol pretty rigorously, as I feel it is the best fit for my ‘get faster at 5k’ goal.

It was good to see first-timer Monica visiting us from the local FitStuff running group, with her goal being to get faster at parkrun. The more the merrier!

I felt strong during this session, and clearly went off waaaaaay too fast, as my splits show:

  • Split 1: 3:28 km/h
  • Split 2: 3:43 km/h
  • Split 3: 3:54 km/h
  • Split 4: 4:07 km/h
  • Split 5: 3:55 km/h

Ideally, each split should be run at a consistent pace, and this did not happen. You can also see where I deliberately dialled it back on Split 4 to save energy for the end.

That said, I felt strong, and I set new half mile and 1 km PBs during that first split! That’s a great feeling.


Plenty of work still to do, especially around pacing, but my confidence on getting my 5k times down has certainly grown.

Speed training: 1200m repeats in Cornwall

Speed training: 1200m repeats in Cornwall

This week’s speed training was ‘Track on Tour’, as I got the opportunity to visit a different athletics track out in Cornwall!

The track in question is part of the Par Track initiative. To quote their own description:

Green space, community meeting place…somewhere to meet friends, kick a ball about, run free, ride hard…run by the community and soon to be owned by the community…

What a great facility to have available to the local community! Predictably, I went along to take advantage of the track. I had to wait for a large schools’ sporting event to finish, but that just highlighted how the facility is really helping out in the area. (‘Ethopia’ were the winners!)

I found the track to be in great condition and a joy to run on.

The session itself was inspired by the session run by Waverley Harriers the previous evening:

  • 4 x 1200m intervals, at ‘Target 5k’ pace. For me, that is 4 minutes per km (20 minute 5k).
  • 3 minute rest periods. This time around, that equated to ‘slow walk’.

This is a staple workout for improving speed at this sort of distance.

Annoyingly, I forgot to turn off ‘Auto Lap’ on my watch before starting, but the paces of the intervals came out roughly like this:

  • 1st: 3:43 per km
  • 2nd: 3:47 per km
  • 3rd: 3:57 per km
  • 4th: 4:00 per km

I’m happy with this overall. I am hitting the pace required, although I need to put in more hard work in order to sustain this for a full 20 minutes without stopping. I also need to work on more consistent pacing (This has been a real bugbear of mine since I started this blog: Starting out too fast on runs and then reaping the consequences).

I felt strong during the workout which in itself is a good sign, and no undue stiffness afterwards. Perfect.

Finally, this is meeting my goal of doing at least one speed or hill training workout each week! Admittedly, I have only done two in a row, but one step at a time…

Speed training: Back on the track!

Speed training: Back on the track!

It was my return to the track after a bit of a break last night. Predictably, if I am going to hit my sub-twenty minute 5k target, there is more to it than tempo running and losing a bit of weight.

Today’s session (Thanks Coach Sam and Waverley Harriers!), after the usual warm-up was:

  • 5 x 2 minute fast runs (30 second recovery breaks)
  • 8 x 1 minute fast runs (also with the 30 second recovery breaks)

The expectation was that every run should be faster than your usual 5k pace, with the second set being faster than the first set.

The ‘After’ Photo!

Although I am still working on regaining speed, I felt pretty strong on this, particularly on the second set where I regained a lot of lost ground. This included feeling my ‘kick‘ was returning on the second set.

I need to keep up regular speed and hill training as part of my goal. At the same time, I must not neglect slow runs (Thanks Dave for pointing this out!) as they are a key part of training as well…