Before setting off for New York this morning, we tried a new workout at thetrack. The session is recommended by the legendary British coach Frank Horwill in his book “Obsession for Running”. Frank was the founder of the British Milers’ Club in the 1960s, which nurtured talents such as Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett, Steve Cram and Tim Hutchings and which led to the golden era of British middle-distance running. Peter Coe based his son’s training program on Frank’s five-pace training programme, so Frank knows of what he speaks.
You run 25 continuous laps of a 400 metre track (that is, 10km in total), alternating between your 5km pace and your marathon pace. (If you don’t know these, you can use my pace calculator at www.runningforfitness.org to estimate them from a recent race or training run.) There are no rests between laps.
This tough session can substitute in your programme for a tempo session; it will help improve your ability to run aerobically. Frank reckons it is one of the most effective workouts for runners who need to get fit quickly – for example to pass a fitness test or to get ready for a race after a lay-off.
This morning I ran 83 seconds for the fast laps and 94 seconds for the marathon-pace laps – giving me a total for 10km of a fraction under 37 minutes – which is about my 10km race pace. (I started with a marathon pace lap.)
If you are not able to sustain the paces, don’t do the session slower. When can’t make the lap times, stop and walk a lap to recover, and then pick up where you left off.
As well as being a great fitness booster, this session gives you a feel for running at different paces, and helps you to get used to your marathon pace as an “easy” recovery pace.
You won’t find a better way to pack a lot of benefit into a 40 minute work-out.