This progressive workout series is ideal for novice and intermediate athletes because it gradually builds speed and endurance.

This five-part run workout series will improve your speed while reinforcing proper form.

Developing your run speed is not just about improving your fitness—it also requires a focus on efficiency in order to see real results over time. This progressive workout series from coach Dan McIntosh of Trisutto.com, is ideal for novice and intermediate athletes—as well as athletes returning from injury—because it gradually builds speed and endurance while reinforcing good form.

“Oftentimes we think quality is just about intensity, but I force my athletes, especially the beginners, to fight the urge to run faster and instead refine their movements under tighter control and lower stress,” McIntosh says. The workout starts with 20 minutes in week one and builds to 55 minutes of total running.

Do this work out once or twice a week, moving on to the next level after 2–3 weeks. These sessions should be done on a treadmill or a consistently flat, even surface.

Pacing key

Easy: Warm-up, jog effort, 1–2 on a 1–10 rate of perceived exertion (RPE)
Moderate: Ironman effort, 3–4 RPE, one or two sentence replies in conversation
Medium: 70.3 effort, 5–6 RPE, one or two words in conversation

“While these efforts will often correlate with race pace, the key is not to force pace if your control isn’t there,” McIntosh says. “If you’re feeling poorly in the moderate efforts, don’t try to run ‘faster’ once you get to medium. Instead focus on running better. Maybe lift your cadence, improve arm carry, engage the core or lean more from the ankles. Most times working on these things will naturally inspire a harder but better feeling—and eventually the pace will follow.”

Run drills

Which drills you do depends on your needs as an athlete, but a good place to start is Triathlete.com/10 minwarmup. McIntosh also suggests integrating mobility exercises and using a small massage tool to help release the hips, glutes and feet during the drills. Once you can stay in control and execute perfect form during your moderate efforts, you can swap in a tempo session (with drills before and after).

Level 1

6 min warm-up jog
1 round drills
4 min easy
2 min moderate
1 round drills
3 min easy
3 min moderate
1 round drills
2 min easy, feeling better than warm-up
= 20 min running

Level 2

8 min warm-up jog
1 round drills
4 min easy
4 min moderate
1 round drills
3 min easy
5 min moderate
1 round drills
5 min easy
= 30 min running

Level 3

Note: Intermediate runners can start here.
10 min
warm-up jog
1 round drills
4 min easy
5 min moderate
1 min medium
1 round drills
3 min easy
5 min moderate
1 min medium
1 min moderate
1 round drills
5 min easy
= 35 min running

Level 4

10 min warm-up jog
1 round drills
4 min easy
5 min moderate
1 min medium
4 min moderate
1 min medium
1 round drills
3 min easy
5 min moderate
1 min medium
4 min moderate
2 min medium
1 round drills
5 min easy
= 45 min running

Level 5

10 min warm-up jog
1 round drills
4 min easy
5 min moderate
1 min medium
4 min moderate
2 min medium
3 min moderate
3 min medium
2 min moderate
1 round drills
3 min easy
5 min moderate
1 min medium
4 min moderate
2 min medium
3 min moderate
4 min medium
1 min moderate
1 round drills
5 min easy
= 55 min running