Our running routines need a twist ever so often, not just to alleviate track boredom but also to generate more speed and power in our runs. Speed workouts and interval training helps in getting your body used to the efforts expected of it, and translates to better times on race day along with improved running stamina.
Runners who are training for a race do several variations of repeats ranging from 200m to higher, as demonstrated in our Fartlek and other speed work chapters. While these are all great routines that get your legs used to tougher distances and speeds, we’re talking about taking it a step further with 1000m repeats – also known as Special Ks or kilometer workouts. Due to the extended distance, they tend to be more race-specific while allowing you to choose from several variations, depending on your running form and goals.
Here are a few special twists you can add to kilometer repeats with a combination of repeats and recovery strategies:
Running at the pace of the event you’re training for is critical for both new and experienced runners as it introduces you to the physical and mental challenges of the race. So, if you’re targeting a 5K or 10K, do 5 and 10 kilometer repeats respectively at the speed at which you’d run the race, with active recovery of 30-60 seconds between Ks. In a way, this serves as a rehearsal for your run and gets you used to the pace much before race day. For longer distances, such as the half-marathon, you can work up to 8-10 kilometer repeats in your desired pace, increasing the number as you get closer to your date.
Tempo runs are typically 30-40 minutes at a comfortable but hard pace, that help develop stamina in runners. Running 8-10 reps of 1K at a good hard tempo with a short jog recovery between reps can be a great substitute for a tempo run and will help develop aerobic strength early in the training cycle. The short rest allows you to get your heart rate back down so it’s not a full-blown marathon tempo, but you still get a good 8-10Ks of marathon pace.
Once you’ve gotten a hang of kilometer repeats, there’s plenty of room to add speed and pace variations in your routine. If you’re set on doing 10 repeats of 1K for a session, each of these reps could be run at a different pace, followed by active recovery of 1-2 minutes. So you could alternate between your 5K, 10K and half marathon speeds with every rep, tweaking your recovery to match the effort put in for every kilometer. For example, try 3-4 sets of 1K repeats, with the first rep at half-marathon pace (followed by 1:00 recovery), the second at 10K pace (2:00 recovery), and the last at 5K pace, followed by 3-4 minutes recovery. It is a great way to improve fatigue resistance and get more familiar with the rhythm of the race.
Don’t forget the additional 5-10 minutes of warm-up jogs and cool-down stretches before and after your kilometer repeats. That way you can avoid nasty cramps and running injuries during the intense Ks and maintain better form throughout the session.
Main image: Steve Bonini