Over/Under Workout

Most runners are always looking for different ways of running better and faster.  Here is a workout designed for longer distances that seems to require the use of a Garmin to monitor your training.  At the end I will make some simple suggestions.

This workout comes from exercise physiologist, clinical/registered dietitian and USAT Level I coach Marni Sumbal of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition in Jacksonville, Fla.  You can read the original at: http://triathlon.competitor.com/2013/10/training/one-hour-workout-overunder-run-workout_85531 

She says this over/under workout, ideally performed 4–5 weeks out from your A race, helps teach the body how to shuttle lactic acid without losing form during high-intensity efforts. “The focus of this workout is to become more efficient with higher intensity efforts and to teach the body how to recover after hard efforts,” Sumbal says. “Athletes will do best with a Garmin to monitor pace—but don’t get stuck on numbers. I recommend mostly relying on perceived exertion. After the workout is finished, review your training file to see what occurred with the heart rate during each interval as well as in the recovery period to better understand how your body responds to training stress.

This workout will help the body resist fatigue because it allows for time to actively recover after a hard burst, but the little extra rest will also assist in the heart rate dropping between sets for good form and consistent efforts, and to reduce risk for injury with high-intensity training.”

Over/Under Run Workout

This is best performed outside on a safe, 8-minute loop course (or track) or an out-and-back course.


10 mins easy jog, with dynamic stretching before and after. Include 3–4 x 20 sec pick-ups to get the legs turning over fast before the main set, with 30–60 sec walk/jog in between.

Main Set 4-6 x 8 mins over/unders with 1 min walking recovery in between.

(Note for newer athletes: Perform 4-8 x 4 mins over/unders instead of 8-min intervals. Rest 2 mins in between each interval and go by RPE, 2 mins at 90–95%, 2 mins at 75–80%. If using a Garmin, turn off auto-lap and hit lap before and after each interval. It’s recommended to set your Garmin to an interval screen to see lap time, current pace, lap pace and current heart rate.)

Pick a realistic goal pace for your upcoming race. Example: If you are training for a half marathon or half Ironman and your goal run pace is 7:30/mile average, that would be your goal pace for this set. Perform four minutes under 7:30/mile and four minutes over 7:30/mile. Your range should be within 15–30 secs of your goal time and the key is to be consistent throughout the intervals.

Endurance athletes may find themselves getting faster with each interval when the body warms up, whereas sprinters may find themselves struggling to slow down on the over part of each interval.

The purpose of this set is to not have a goal time of 7:30/mile and to do the first two rounds at 6:30/mile and 7:35/mile and then fatigue after two rounds and to do 7:25/mile and then 8:30/mile for the last few rounds.

Try to be as consistent as possible with your effort so that you teach your body how to drop the heart rate a few beats while you are still running strong after a hard effort. If you cannot maintain good form after four intervals, either call it a day and cool down or take an extra 2–3 mins recovery to try for one more round. Over time you will notice that the faster efforts will perceive to be “easier” and your anaerobic threshold will also improve.


Easy jog as needed

Some Simple Variations

I like the two speed idea in this and have done something similar in the past.  I set an alarm to go off after twenty minutes and ran away from home as fast as I could until the alarm sounded, then turned round and ran back.

You don’t need a Garmin for this.

As suggested you can use an out and back course and you can vary the distance you run out.  It depends on how fast you want to run and for how long.  If you are looking to increase your mile or 5k time, I would be inclined to cut the run time down to one or two minutes.

For regular speed training you could vary the times from one to three minutes and do it once a week.  If you are doing two sets, do one set at twice the running time as the other.

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