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Time Based Speed Workouts for Runners

Feb 22, 2018 | Running, Running Advice | 5 comments

Time Based Speed Workouts

On my Instagram on Tuesday morning I asked whether people wanted me to share some speed workouts that focus around time instead of distance.

One of the reasons I, and lots of other runners love to run for time vs distance is the ease of location to complete your workout. You don’t need to head to a track or a long flat stretch of road (although that will obviously make your workout a little easier for you to maintain pace!), just a running watch, or even a stop watch or phone would do at a push. You could also give them a go on the treadmill, just make sure the belt is up to speed when you start your timer…

Time Based Speed Workouts

Time Workout Ideas 

  • 4 x 4 minutes at 3K pace (a little faster than your 5K pace) with 90 second recoveries (either stopped or walking)
  • 10 mins at 10K pace, 10 x 90 seconds FAST with 45 seconds rest, 10 minutes at marathon/half marathon pace
  • 10 minute warm up, 3 x 10 minutes at 10K pace with 3 min jogged recoveries, 10 min cool down
  • 4 x 3 minutes at 5K pace with 90 seconds rest, 5 x 90 seconds FAST with 60 seconds rest
  • 15 minutes at 10K pace, 6 x 3 minutes FAST with 90 seconds rest
  • 5 x 6 minutes at 10K pace with 90 second jogged recoveries
  • 6 x (3 minutes at 5KM pace, 45 seconds rest, 300m FAST) 90 seconds rest
  • 1/2/3/4/5/4/3/2/1 minutes with the shorter times at 5K pace and longer times at 10K pace with 60 second jogs between
  • 10/8/6/4 minutes at increasing speed, with 2 min jogged recovery between sets
  • 14 x 30 second hills, jogged recoveries

These are some of the workouts I’ve done in the build up to the Tokyo marathon, however if you’re new to running or just getting back into speedwork, then you can cut down on either the reps or the time.

Time Based Speed Workouts


The recovery section is just as important as the speed portion. It can be really tempting to extend your recovery when the workout gets tough, or to stop completely when the workout calls for jogged recoveries (totally guilty of both!). If you’re trying to push yourself, cutting down recovery time is a really great way of doing this while still maintaining a hard but manageable speed.

rest = stopped completely or walking 

jogged – really slow recovery pace

If you’re new to running or speed workouts, or coming back from injury, you can give yourself longer recoveries if you need. However, don’t go easy on yourself, a speed workout should be hard!

Time Based Speed Workouts for Runners

Emma and I competed 4 x 4 mins (3 for me) on Tuesday and her first 4 min block was an 8.20 pace…the next 3 with me setting the pace were all well under 8 min mile pace. Proof that she could run faster, and that she wasn’t pushing herself enough for the first set.

Your pace should be hard but manageable to get to the end of the set. You should be looking forward to the recoveries (counting down to them!) and feel like you can’t run much faster  (I have actually been sick during a speed workout before)! Don’t limit yourself by thinking you can’t run the speeds, or hold pace – give it your best shot!


  1. Chiswickmum

    Love the big smiles under the Dentist sign!

  2. Rowing Fan

    Thank you very much for a great running plan. Will try to implement this into my workout, never been a big fan of running but have been enjoying it more recently

  3. Cat Storey

    Love these tips Charlie. I completed my first ever track session last week and actually enjoyed it. It was really interesting seeing how I could push myself and see my times on my Garmin.

    Cat from

  4. Cathryn

    I’m finding that time-based intervals are the only real option for me. Our new home is in such a hilly area, there isn’t a flat piece of safe road anywhere around me! But by working on effort and time, I can still manage it. Love these ideas.


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