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Workout of the Week: Plus Ones

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Mar. 26, 2014
  • Updated Mar. 27, 2014 at 6:03 AM UTC
This workout is challenging, but will also give your fitness -- and confidence -- a nice little boost heading into your next race.. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

This workout helps improve two crucial elements of racing well. 

Everyone has their favorite go-to workouts, whether it’s a set of lung-searing track intervals, a tried-and-true tempo run, or a fartlek session you’ve done so many times you could complete it blindfolded. These are the key sessions help improve both fitness and confidence as you build toward a goal race.

The Plus One workout adds a slight twist to two of my favorite interval sessions, The Halftime Fartlek and a similar doozy I like to call Descend The Ladder, and helps improve two crucial elements of racing well: 1. The ability to maintain goal race pace when your legs are trashed, and 2. The ability to shift gears and finish strong. The basic structuring of the sessions involves inserting a faster interval into the main interval set. For those faster repetitions, I usually prescribe a minute — or if on the track, a lap — hence the name of the workout.

Below I describe two workouts geared toward athletes focusing on racing 5K/10K, but either session can be easily manipulated in regard to the length and intensity of the intervals in order to work for longer distances or lesser experience levels. Do these workouts once or twice in the 2-4 weeks preceding a key race when your overall workload is still fairly high. These two sessions are challenging, but will also give your fitness — and confidence — a nice little boost heading into your next race.

Here’s how to do them:

Off The Track:

– Warm up with 15-20 minutes of easy jogging, followed by dynamic stretching, drills and strides.

– Perform a timed fartlek of 5-1-4-1-3-1-2-1-1-1 minute repetitions. Run the non-bolded reps (5-4-3-2-1) at 5K race effort, jogging for half the time of the last interval you completed as recovery, so 2:30 jogging after the 5-minute intervals, 2 minutes after the 4-minute interval, etc. Run the bolded 1-minute repetitions at 10-15 seconds per mile faster than 5K race effort. Follow the faster 1-minute reps with 3 minutes of easy jogging before moving on to the next rep.

– Cool down with 15-20 minutes of easy jogging.

On The Track:

– Warm up with 15-20 minutes of easy jogging, followed by dynamic stretchingdrills and strides.

– Perform a descending ladder of 2,000-400-1,600-400-1,200-400-800-400-400-400 meter intervals. Run the non-bolded reps (2K-1,600-1,200-800-400) at 10K race pace, jogging for half the distance of the last interval you completed as recovery, so a 1,000m jog after the 2,000m interval, 800m after the 1,600m interval, etc. Run the bolded 400m repetitions at 5K race pace or slightly faster. Follow the faster 400m reps with 400m of easy jogging (preferably going in the other direction on the track) before continuing down the ladder.

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Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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