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6 Great Ways To Achieve Your Running Goals

atlanta dr. sam endurance nutrition performance physical therapy physiocoach recovery running sleep May 15, 2023

As a previous college distance runner, I have run many different types of workouts for improving speed and endurance. Here is a list of some of my favorite workouts whether you're looking to increase your speed, endurance, lactate threshold, or just want to incorporate more variety in your running workouts. There are many different routes you can take to achieving your running goals, and all of these sessions can be modified and progressed to meet your current level of expertise and fitness. 


1. Tempo Runs: A tempo run requires sustaining a running pace for an extended period of time, and typically takes around 20-30 minutes of work. The pace should be challenging but sustainable,  and I usually like to maintain around 80-90% of maximum heart rate or 7-8/10 on the rate of perceived exertion scale. At the appropriate intensity you should be able to say a couple of words or short sentences during the workout, but you should not be able to maintain a conversation. Tempo runs are great for improving your lactate threshold and overall endurance.

2. Intervals: Intervals involve alternating between periods of hard effort and rest or recovery. These can be done a couple of different ways: timed intervals or distance intervals. Distance intervals are best on a track, but a path where you are familiar with various distance markers works well also. Timed intervals are great when you do not have a track, or are running a new or irregular route. I really like intervals for the ability to compare workouts and show progress over time.

3. Fartlek Runs: Fartlek runs involve alternating between periods of hard effort and a recovery pace, but with less structured interval periods. Fartlek runs are a fun way to mix up distances and paces throughout a workout. I find Fartlek runs are useful for practicing various paces, working on cadence, and provide an opportunity to gain more self awareness of speed. You can mix up the distances and paces to make the workout more challenging and fun. Fartlek runs are great for improving your overall fitness level and improving your ability to change pace during a race.

4. Hill Repeats: Hill repeats involve running up an incline at a challenging pace, followed by a recovery jog or walk back down the hill. I encourage people first starting out to try to maintain a normal pace running up the hill, and make the hill provide increased effort while sustaining your pace. You can then progress to increasing your speed while running up the hill. I prefer a longer, more gradual hill around ½ to ¾ of a mile for workouts, and luckily Atlanta provides plenty of opportunities to find hills. This workout is great for improving leg strength, as well as your mental toughness for hilly races. 

5. Ladder Workouts: Ladder workouts start with shorter intervals and gradually increase in distance before decreasing back down to the shorter intervals. I like to keep the recovery time the same between intervals, which will increase the work:rest ratio during the middle of the workout. The race distance you are prepping for will help dictate the interval distance, but typically I like to start out with a quick 200 or 400 meter interval, work my way up to a mile or 2000 meters, and then back down to a 200 for a quicker pace to finish. Ladder workouts are another great way to improve mental toughness during the middle to late portions of your workout.

6. Mile Repeats: Mile Repeats are exactly what they sound like. Typically done on the track, but can be performed on the roads or trails. I like to perform a slow 400 meter recovery jog between miles to get close to a full recovery without dropping below 120 bpm heart rate. You can try to perform each interval at the same pace, or could try to perform each mile a little quicker (negative splits). I will often prescribe these for individuals who have a tendency to start out races too quickly. Again the number of mile repeats will depend on what distance race you are prepping for, but I usually perform anywhere from 2- to 6-mile repeats.   

As always: listen to your body and fatigue level when performing any of these workouts, get good sleep prior to workouts (Two Two Ways To Improve Your Sleep), ensure proper nutrition (Under-fueled and Underperforming), and recovery afterwards.

Remember, running is a journey and there's no one-size-fits-all approach. By incorporating a variety of workouts and listening to your body, you can improve your overall performance and prevent boredom in pursuit of reaching your running goals.


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Thanks for reading,

Dr. Sam

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