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The Out and Back Run 

I’m pretty sure everyone out there has probably done this session unplanned when you’ve lost track of time and realized you had to book it home! But in case you haven’t (or didn’t realize you were doing it) here is a structured plan for one of my favourite runs. Note: I’ve unintentionally done this work out on a regular basis. This is a session I like to use to build strength endurance and work on pacing and finishing strong.Key concept: out 20 minutes and back to the same point but in less time.

10 to 20 minute easy warm-up including 6 x 80m strides.
20 minutes at a tempo pace (you shouldn’t be able to sing your favourite Garth Brooks song out loud at this pace).
Immediately turn around and run back to your starting point aiming for a faster second half.
6 x 80m strides
10 to 20 minutes cold down.

If you are short on time, you can do 10 or 15 minute tempo blocks instead of 20.

The workout works on pacing by reinforcing a negative split.  If you can’t make it back to the start point before your 20 minutes is up, you went out too hard. The workout can be done on a flat or hilly course, but don’t cheat your self by running uphill during the first half and downhill during the second.

I prefer workouts that go by distance as opposed to time. I like the incentive that if I pick up the pace I will get done sooner.  It gives meaning to the hard work and suffering while also simulating race day mentality. If you want some extra motivation, imagine that your family is eating your favourite meal without you and you need to get home quick before it’s all gone. Or in my girlfriend’s case, they are drinking your favourite Okanagan wine without you.

This is a session that I first did while running on my high school cross-country team and is still prescribed by my current coach Kevin Cutjar.  It is a great workout to do with a group as well because everyone can match themselves up with a slightly faster runner and try to keep them in their sights while the front of the pack runners can try to chase down everyone else behind them on their way back.