Repeating the same sessions in training, with little or no variation each week will lead to a plateau in the progress and improvements you hope to make.

Variation in training, whether it’s simply an extra mile or two added onto a fartlek run or increasing the repetitions in a hill session, can lead to both psychological and physiological benefits. This includes stressing the body differently aerobically and anaerobically, and boosting motivation when runs become stale.

Before you jump into any of the below 10 running sessions, it’s always important to stress a few guidelines before and after high-intensity training.

  • Warm-up of 10 to 20 minutes of easy running, dynamic stretches and movement drills.
  • Include a recovery period if you are doing repetitions.
  • Finish with 10 to 20-minute cool-down.
  • Proper hydration and nutrition afterwards to aid your recovery.
  • An easier day of running or rest day should follow the session to recover.
  • Only push to 90% maximum effort.

High-intensity training should push the boundaries of your comfort zones. The idea is that they provide a different stimulus to your body and mind to force an adaptation in your body when it recovers during easier days. Becoming stronger and fitter can only happen when you give your body adequate recovery time between high-intensity training.

Only ever push to 90% maximum effort, this is more than enough of a stimulus to force an adaptation and it reduces the risk of any injuries.

Example high-intensity sessions

Session 1
Run 8 x 60-second repeats uphill at 85% max effort.
To recover, jog back down after each repetition.

Session 2
Run 3 x 1 km repeats at 85% max effort.
4 minutes recovery between each repetition.

Session 3
Run hard for 2 x (3x400m) at 90% max effort.
1-minute recovery between each repetition and 3 minutes between sets.

Session 4
Run 2 x (4mins, 3mins, 2mins, 1min) with 60 secs recovery between repetitions and four minutes easy jog between sets aim to do these at 90% max effort.

Session 5
Run 5 x 5 minutes with 90 secs recovery at 70-80% maximum effort

Session 6
Run for 10 minutes at 70-80% maximum effort.
Then run easy to recovery for 5 minutes, followed by 6 x 30 seconds uphill at 80% effort with good running form.
Walk back down between repeats for recovery.

Session 7
Run the following sets with 60 seconds recovery between reps and 2:30 minutes between sets.
Sets: 4 x 60 secs, 4 x 2mins, 2 x 4mins, 4 x 2 minutes, and aim to do these at 85% max effort.

Session 8
Run a 20 to 30 minutes fartlek session surging to 80% max effort for anywhere between 1 minute to 5 minutes while allocating an equal amount of time with a recovery jog.
Mix up the time intervals or choose landmarks to run faster between.

Session 9
25 minutes of tempo running at 75-80% of your maximum effort, be consistent with your effort and speed this will require good pacing. Follow with a 5-minute recovery jog.

Session 10
WARM UP, Uphill progression repeats, COOL-DOWN
Week 1 – 6 x 60 secs hard uphill at 85% max effort & jog back down after each repetition
Week 2 – 8 x 60 secs hard uphill at 85% max effort & jog back down
Week 3 – 10 x 60 secs hard uphill at 85% max effort & jog back down
Week 4 – 8 x 90 secs hard uphill at 85% max effort & jog back down
Week 5 – 10 x 90 secs hard uphill at 85% max effort & jog back down
Week 6 – 12 x 90 secs hard uphill at 85% max effort & jog back down

About the Author

Majell Backhausen is one of Australia’s finest elite trail runners. He has enjoyed success on the shorter distance trails right up to the 170km Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB).