Sub-1hr running session: winter speed maintenance

Build your race speed with sets that combine both stamina and pace work


Injecting speed into seasonal stamina sets will set you up for a fast summer. Emma-Kate Lidbury explains…

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(Main image: Jason Newsome)

Equipment needed: running shoes and socks, tights/shorts, base layer, running gloves, hat, watch/heart rate monitor/GPS.

How to fit it in: to gain the most from this session, try to schedule it so that you have relatively fresh legs. Avoid doing very intense workouts in the days before or after it, but don’t be afraid to go for an easy run, ride or spin as this will aid recovery and adaptation. Learn to listen to your body and adapt your training accordingly.

Running fives


10min steady jog.

Main session

40min steady run, but every fifth minute build the pace by 20secs to above race pace in the last 20secs.


10min easy jog.

Main benefits

Performance benefits

This workout will inject speed into your running at a time of year when too many people focus on logging slow, steady miles. By running at and above race pace now, you’re setting yourself up for spring/summer. This will help to elevate your aerobic endurance, which should mean easy runs seem easier and your top-end speed isn’t a long lost memory come race season.

Mental benefits

This session is tougher than it first appears, but approach it with a positive mindset and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve. Using some positive mantras, such as “hold form, keep pushing”, will help to keep you focused on your technique and should detract from any physical pain. This is a great trick to master for racing.

Physiological benefits

Not only is this run session a lot of fun, it’s also beneficial for your aerobic endurance. Moving from steady-state pace up to and beyond your race pace and then settling back into a steady pace again is more testing than you realise. It forces you to ‘open the engine’ and push your speed before recovering into a steadier rhythm. It’ll help lift your aerobic endurance in a way that a straight, steady run can’t. Don’t be tempted to go too hard too soon, though, as the pace will catch up with you.

Adapt for Ironman

Increase the duration of the run to 70-75mins and add some very short hill reps at the end, such as 8 x 10-15secs with walk down recovery. Cool down for 8-10mins.

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