As a runner, you should always be on the lookout for techniques, strategies, or workouts that can enhance our running abilities... Even the most challenging ones.
For new and advanced runners training for 10k race, the key workout you should consider are 2 mile repeats. It is a super effective way to get down that hit that time goal. Similar to mile repeats- just not as much fun.
In this video, Sage Canaday shares his tips and training advice for the best workout for distance runners and why this needs to be in your program! We will also share our thoughts on intensity, recovery, and the lactate threshold.
In a military training article, the author writes, "Interval training will help you increase your foot speed, build your VO2 Max, and make your PFT distance running at faster paces more comfortable - this means you are getting in better shape."
2 mile repeats are the most effective interval workouts for any distance runner who wants to increase strength, speed, and stamina all at once. You simply run for two miles at a comfortably hard pace, rest for five minutes, and repeat. Easy right?
When doing this type of workout you are targeting a pace 10-20 second slower than what would be your normal race pace. These high intensity intervals will take more effort than a Fartlek workout but are similar in distance and should be done once a week.
On the bright side, assuming you can accomplish the workout, adding it to your 10k training plan will increase your chances of hitting your goal time.
From personal experience I can tell you two things: they work, and they are not as much fun as Mile Repeats. Runners looking to qualify for Boston or veterans eyeing that just out of reach time-goal can use this workout to make it happen.
Founder of the Run Walk Run Method
A Good Pace Time for 2 Mile Repeats
Often runners- new and advanced- ask me "What is a good pace time for a 2 mile run" and "how many repeats should I take in during my 10k training". Both questions depend on how many miles you are running each week.
A physical fitness test for army recruits requires them to pass a 2 mile run. The time goal standards for passing, based on age and gender, range from 13 mins to 20 mins. If you haven't ran a 10k before use these times as a gauge to your performance.
Image source: Military.com
Before you consider adding these intense runs to your 10k training plan, you must have a significant amount of baseline mileage. This is what you feel you can run without struggling each week. 2 mile repeats runs are definitely going to test your endurance and core strength- knowing how many to run is just as important.
According to a Running USA survey in 2013, the typical male runner averaged 4.1 days of running with 25.5 miles per week. For females the average was 3.9 days and 20.2 miles.
Building your weekly mileage will determine if you cant do this or not. Most beginners should not start attempting this type of workout until they have logged at least 30 miles per week- usually after 3 to 4 weeks of consistent distance running.
- 30-40 miles per week- 2 repeats
- 40-60 miles per week- 3 repeats
- Over 60 miles per week- 4-5 repeats
Use your Recovery Time Wisely
Here's the deal with this key workout...
It is tough and you only have 5 mins of recovery time in between repeats.
With distance being the hardest part of the workout, using speeds faster than your average marathon pace and the high intensity can really bog you down. For beginners- after finishing your first 2 miles- you may feel like you can't go the distance... again!
But, since most fitness adaptions happen during recovery, using that time wisely will help you produce better results.
The video suggest some walking, light jogging, or even dynamic exercises to keep the muscles warmed up. Injuries are common, especially with collegiate runners, when avoiding the use of proper recovery techniques during and after workouts.
The Need for Recovery
- A hard workout can affect your immune system- high intensity exercises can increase the chance of a runner getting sick for up to 72 hours after working out
- Recovering allows your body to adapt to the high intensity and develops strength to handle the workload.
- Muscle fibers are repaired and made stronger during the recovery process and refueling with foods high in protein will reduce soreness the following day.
- Take it easy on days with recovery runs. Short and easy recovery workouts will optimize your running efficiency when your body is in a fatigued state.
- The depleted nutrients in your body need to be restored within an hour. Skipping out on your post run nutrition can lead to lethargy.
Running your Hardest
An important thing to remember about 2 mile repeats is to run and not sprint.
I love the way this article explains the difference and writes, "Running and sprinting are vigorous intensity exercises. While they both use the same muscle groups, the difference lies in speed. Sprinting is a more powerful, faster form of running that can only be performed in short spurts."
So- even if you had Usain Bolt's genetic make up, sprinting 2 miles straight is begging for an injury.
Coach Canaday suggest the specific intensity level you want to target is 85-88 % of your maximum heart rate. This is the total overall effort you would normally use for running a 10k. The intensity of this workout is similar to that of your lactate threshold.
When lactic acid builds up in your bloodstream you slow down. Lactate is produced by most tissues in the human body, with the highest level of production found in muscle.
What you don't know about your Lactate Threshold
- Your Lactate Threshold pace is 10-20 seconds slower than your 10k race pace
- training programs that involve interval workouts have the most pronounced effect on lactate threshold improvement
- lactate threshold starts at 80-90% of the maximum heart rate in trained runners and at 50-60% in untrained runners
- The heart and the brain take up lactate and use it for energy
- Lactate can be exported to the blood for energy purposes in almost every organ.
- To measure your lactate threshold accurately you must submit blood samples.
- The more blood lactate you accumulate the harder it will be for for your muscles to contract
- It is common to see elevated lactate levels among people with severe asthma
Every runner has a different breaking point. Monitoring your heart rate during weekly mileage runs is a great way get a feel for how much intensity your body can handle.