Note: This training schedule was adapted by Jack Berkery and Bob Gilmore in 1988 from the one originally developed for the GE team in 1982 by Dave Conlon and Larry Lewis and surprisingly enough no one has died from it yet (as far as we know).
Track distances: The track is 400 meters around on the inside lane with 100 meters on each straight and 100 meters on each curve. 400 meters is 437.6 yards. (440 yards is 1/4 mile.) 2 laps, 800 meters, is just a few yards short of a half-mile. 4 laps on the track is 1600 meters or 1750.4 yards. A mile is 1760 yards, so to get a full mile on a metric track you must start about ten yards (28.8 feet) back from the finish line.
Intervals: All workouts are listed in metric distances below. A designation such as 4x400 (read four-by-four-hundred) indicates that you should do four repetitions of four hundred meters, each followed by the specified rest interval. The rest interval should be an easy jog and is designed to give you enough time to recover from the stress of the speed interval. Each speed interval also has a pace designation listed as percent of all-out effort. It may take some time to get a feel for the difference between 80 or 90 or 95 percent. Few interval sessions are ever run at full effort. To see what the pace designation should be for you, refer to the accompanying pace charts.
The whole idea behind doing interval workouts is to simulate the stress of racing on a reduced scale. You will be doing short distance runs at a pace which approaches or even exceeds the pace you intend to take in races at your chosen distance. The longer the interval distance, the lower the percent of effort. This interval schedule is designed primarily for middle to long distance runners (2 mile to 10 Km). Shorter distance runners and sprinters would follow a different type of training.
The speeds listed are at 80-90-95% of the ALL-OUT MILE time, but the the whole schedule is designed for the 2 to 6 mile racer. The 5 Km time listed is computed at a race pace which is 93% of the all-out mile. It is quite accurate for those who train specifically for the 5 Km. Based on that 5 Km time, the 95% intervals are faster than race pace not slower as some have thought.
If you are aiming for distances from 1/2 to 2 miles, the level of effort of the intervals would be between 95 and 110% of the all-out mile time. Training for distances from the 1/2 on down is a whole different story. So, all you 5-10 Km road racers are probably overextending yourselves with 68-70 second quarters. Unless you are training for the mile, ease off.
Caution: The interval training schedule below is only a guideline for what type of workout might be useful at each stage of your build-up. Depending on your starting fitness foundation you may want to do less (or more) of a workout than is specified. Intervals are not for beginners. The intensity of the training would only lead to injuries for the novice. Even long time runners should be careful to have a sufficient mileage base before starting this schedule.
Types of Workouts: There are three types of workouts labeled on the schedule.
Endurance and Aerobic Power Training. It is run at a medium pace with a short recovery period. It is most important for longer distance runners, but short distance runners should use them in the initial stages to toughen up their systems before getting into real sprint training.
Pace Training. It involves running at a fast pace with a rest interval which is the same duration as the speed interval.
Anaerobic Speed Training. It has shorter distances which are run at near all-out effort. These sessions will hurt as much as any race. Maybe more if you aren't quite ready. The rest intervals are longer than the speed interval to allow for full recovery.
Computing Your Pace: A week or two before starting the intervals you should either go to a track to run 1 mile or find a "certified" 5 Km race and give it all you've got. If you run a race rather than a track time trial, be certain of the accuracy of the distance. This will give you a benchmark for your current level of training. With this all-out effort you can then refer to the attached pace charts to determine the speeds corresponding to your percentage of effort. Train at that level for the first six week segment of the schedule. After week number six, do another time trial to see how your speed has improved. Again refer to the pace charts for the interval times to use for the next six weeks.
Warm Up AND Warm Down: Always warm up sufficiently before beginning any interval session. Cold muscles are easily pulled which is especially important to remember in the first few weeks when the climate has not yet turned agreeable. Jog (easy) for a couple laps, stop to do some stretching for 5-10 minutes. Take a couple more laps at a bit faster pace, then remove your warm-ups just before starting the speed work. Don't start the hard stuff until you've worked up a sweat.
After completing the session or that portion of it which you intend to do, run a very slow warm-down mile and stretch a bit more. This warm down procedure will reduce the sudden "decompression" with it's resultant dizziness and drop of blood pressure immediately after stopping. It will also reduce the muscle soreness experienced the next morning. A recent issue of Runner's World says massage after a hard workout is quite beneficial too.
Workouts and Races
4x100 @ 90% effort, 100 rest 4x200 @ 80% effort, 200 rest 4x100 @ 90% effort, 100 rest