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One-Hour Workout: Run Fitness Test

In tandem with the #TriathleteChallenge, this month’s One-Hour Workouts have been running you through the basics of baseline testing in each discipline. This week it’s time for run testing!

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Undertaking fitness tests is an important part of your training and progress—whether you’re a newcomer to the sport or a seasoned veteran. It’s hard to set goals (and get after them!) if you don’t know where you are and what your end goal is. Monitoring progress through baseline fitness tests at regular intervals throughout the year is key to staying on track. This run fitness test is one of coach Troy Jacobson’s go-to tests. 

The key to getting accurate results is undertaking a thorough warm-up; you definitely don’t want to just pull on your run shoes and attempt to hit your best effort straight out of the door. This warm-up is designed to build intensity and introduces some faster accelerations so that you’re ready to go when it’s time for the main set.

The main set is test time, so give it your best effort—think 10/10 RPE (rate of perceived exertion). Be sure to record your average heart rate (if using a heart rate monitor) and make notes about how you felt, as this can prove useful when testing later in the season. Pace yourself: Don’t go too hard too soon and try to make it an even effort. Always follow the same warm-up every time you repeat the test and run the same route. This is a hard workout, so you should expect to feel fatigued after this. Be sure to avoid higher intensity workouts either side of this session.

Once the hard work of the run fitness test is all done, cool down for at least 10 minutes and don’t be afraid to walk/jog to bring your heart rate back down.

Plug your run fitness test results into the McMillan running calculator (or Training Peaks has a similar function if you’re a Training Peaks user) and from there you’ll be able to create running paces and heart rate zones to help guide your training. 

Run Fitness Test


20 minutes relaxed running, gradually building to 6-7/10 RPE

5 x 20 – 30-second accelerations with 30 seconds rest between

5 minutes building effort, minute by minute, from 6/10 RPE to 9/10 RPE

Main Set

5K race pace run at best effort pace, recording pace and heart rate each mile. Don’t go out too hard, try to keep it smooth and controlled throughout.


10-15 minutes relaxed running, finishing with a walk/jog

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