Mixed Distance Intervals

Mixed Distance Intervals

When you run mixed distance intervals, your body has to adjust to lactic acid invading your body early. First, you run a longer interval (2000 meters to 1000 meters) at a slower pace. Next, you run a shorter interval (800 meters to 200 meters) at a quicker pace. Finally, you repeat this process three to four times.

Mixed Distance Intervals

Here is an example workout we did during the cross country season. The total distance of the workout was 5000 meters (which equals the boys race distance). 1600 – 400 – 1600 – 400 – 1000. We took three to four minutes rest between each interval. Early in the season, we took four minutes rest. As the season progressed, we cut it down to three.

Each interval is at a specific pace. We ran the 1600’s 10 to 15 seconds slower than their 5k race pace. The 400’s were at a much quicker pace around 10 to 15 seconds faster than 5k race pace. Finally the 1000 meters was taken out at 5k race pace, but we encourage them to kick the last 200 meters.

It looks simpler with an example runner. Let’s say your best 5k race is 18:45. This is near 6:00 mile pace.

1600 – 6:10 to 6:15
400 – 1:15 to 1:20
1600 – 6:10 to 6:15
400 – 1:15 to 1:20
1000 – 3:40 to 3:50

In most cases, we run the last 1000 under 3:30 because they kick it to the finish.

Here is another example of this workout designed around running a faster 1 mile. Let’s say your fastest mile time is 6:00 (I am using this time because it is easy to divide up for an example). Use that pace to modify your workout. Run a 600 – 200 – 600 – 200 – 400. The 600’s should be 5 to 10 seconds slower than race pace, and the 200’s should be about 5 seconds faster. The 400 is at race pace, but again we encourage kicking it home.

600 – 2:25 to 2:30
200 – 40 seconds
600 – 2:25 to 2:30
200 – 40 seconds
400 – 1:30 or under.

There is a lot of room to play with a workout like this. The goal is alternate between slower and faster than race pace. It forces lactic acid into your system early in the workout, and your body has to learn to use it better.

I find mixed distance intervals keep almost all of my runners happy too. The shorter distance guys love the short distance intervals, where the longer distance runners stay strong on the longer intervals. Then it’s a battle on the last interval. Good luck and have fun with this one.

– Written by David Tiefenthaler

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