Sub-1hr session: Set the pace

Want a beginner's run workout that involves various different levels of effort? Try this one…

Sub-1hr session: Set the pace

Emma-Kate Lidbury outlines a beginner’s session that will see you working your way up through various levels of effort – and all in under an hour…


This session is best tackled when you’re relatively fresh, so avoid doing it the day after a hard ride or run. Avoid hard running the following day, but riding or swimming should be fine.

For this workout you’ll need: run shoes and clothing, HR monitor and/or GPS, and a treadmill (if you’re doing it indoors).

Set the pace


10mins easy run, zone 1 (Z1).

Main session

3 x 15mins, starting at Z1 and building effort every 3mins so you’re in Z3 for the last 3mins, so: Z1; Z1–2; Z2; Z2–3; Z3. Perform the three sets continuously – no breaks in between – running smoothly throughout.


5mins easy jog.

Main benefits

Performance benefits

This workout teaches you the art of pacing, as well as helping you get to know your training zones and what it feels like working in each of them. It also develops your ability to work close to your maximum, which will yield great fitness gains over time.

Mental benefits

Learning to pace and push yourself are as much psychological skills as they are physical. Having the discipline to hold back at the start and then push on in the latter stages can be tough. Get used to the feeling in training so you know how to cope when you’re racing.

Physiological benefits

This is a great ‘build’ run and, if performed correctly, really sets you up to work hard in the final 5mins of each 15min set.

Be sure to start smoothly and easily on the Z1 and Z2 efforts to ensure you’re able to keep your effort up during the Z3 periods. Use the time in Z1 and Z1–2 in the beginning of the second and third sets to recover.

Adapt for Ironman

Increase the sets to 20mins or add a fourth set when you feel comfortable doing so. Don’t increase volume and intensity by more than 10% each week, though.

(Image: Jonny Gawler)


For lots more run workouts head to our Training section