This is a quality aerobic session that was first introduced to me by my coaching mentor, Brett Sutton, and that I have used successfully with various athletes over the years, albeit with some modifications. I’ve seen this workout benefit both Olympic-distance athletes up to Ironman.
It’s not a session I would prescribe to the average age grouper, but it might be used more if your race schedule is rather sparse and/or you are experienced and have good durability. A workout with a lower number of intervals (6–8x) at a marginally faster pace (up to 70.3/open marathon pace) might be something that could be used with more regularity.
Ideally it is placed in a training program with full regard to the mix of workouts in that week, so use some common sense as to when you inject it into your program and how you recover from it.
This workout is all about holding up through the combined fatigue of the intended quantity and “solid” intensity (aka MEDIUM in my speak). If you run too hard and chase the intensity from the beginning, you’ll see an early detonation. It’s a challenging workout that will test your mental and physical fortitude, but done in the closed environment of the track with a few buddies—have your drink bottles and fuel at the ready—it can be a lot of fun while giving a positive boot to your race fitness as well.
How to approach the session
This is high-end aerobic running. You might also like to set a heart rate cap of 10 beats below threshold—this being a ceiling, not a target. You don’t want to be bumping against this number early in the set. Err on the side of slower rather than faster in a set of this volume.
Note: It’s very important to note that we are aiming for a sub-threshold pace. Think AEROBIC CONTROL. Running too close to threshold defeats the purpose of this session, in that you will struggle to maintain the pace in short order, and also be training the wrong energy system.
15–20 min easy
10–12 x 1 mile at a bit below 70.3 pace/effort, or 30 seconds per mile slower than threshold (your one hour gun-to-the-head race pace).
Take a 300–400 meter recovery jog after each.
Eg: A triathlete with a threshold of 6:24 per mile (4:00/km) might aim for 6:54 per mile.
5–10 min easy
Australian Matt Koorey raced pro throughout the ‘90s before he started coaching full-time in 1998, mentored by the revered Brett Sutton along the way. He currently lives in Sydney with his wife and three sons. He can be reached at email@example.com.