Half-marathon workout: the fitness elevator

If you’ve got a half-marathon on the calendar this spring, you should include a “fitness elevator” workout in your training schedule. A fun twist on a fartlek session, this workout has you gradually getting faster to practice running on tired legs — a must if you want a strong finish after running 21 kilometres.

Whistler half marathon
Whistler half marathon Photo: Alex Dove.

The fitness elevator

The purpose of this seven-to-one workout is to gradually get faster as the intervals get shorter. So, you should start the first seven-minute section at roughly your goal half-marathon pace, or a bit slower. Pick up the pace with each subsequent interval so that by the time you reach the two-minute and one-minute sections, you’re moving at approximately 5K pace.

The recovery period between each interval should be half of the interval that preceded it, so after the seven-minute section you take 3:30 rest, after the six-minute section you take 3:00 rest, and so on. You should aim to do a very slow jog during your recovery periods, but as the pace gets quicker, you may need to slow even more to a walk.

This is a fairly big workout (the actual workout portion without warm-up and cool-down should take more than 40 minutes), so is better suited to a more experienced runner. If you are a relative beginner and this is your first half, you can shorten the workout by starting from the five-minute mark instead, but make your warm-up and cool-down slightly longer.

The workout

Warmup: 10-20 minutes easy jog, followed by form drills and strides

workout: 7 mins/3:30 rest; 6 mins/3:00 rest; 5 mins/2:30 rest, 4 mins/2:00 rest; 3 mins/1:30 rest; 2 mins/1 min rest; 1 min

Cool down: 10-20 minutes easy jog, followed by light stretching

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