PT365 Run Plans: Need to know – Part 2

PT365 Run Plans: Need to know – Part 2

These drills and types of runs are the foundation of the training plans, so be sure to get familiar with them before you jump into training.

Part 1 focused on aerobic runs, long runs and jogs. Missed it? Read it here.


Running should be fun. A fartlek is a type of fun running first done in Sweden in the 1930s and practiced by runners and coaches to this day. “Fartlek” literally means “speed play.” Speed up and slow down according to how you feel — not by any set pace or time interval. This is how a child runs. Make the recovery portions very relaxed. This is a great way to work on form, relaxation, dynamic stretching and strength.

Make it up as you go. Run quick and relaxed to telephone poles, up hills, to a certain target. Like play, there is no time or distance outcome. The fast segments can be 30 seconds to a few minutes, with the total run time anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes, or longer once you’re fit and ready. Pick a fun, scenic route with little traffic. Warm up for 10 minutes, then run the whole mix of paces over an undulating terrain. Mix in some sprints, hills and strides for a minute or two, then recover between the speed segments. Cool down for 10 minutes.

Body adaptation: Aerobic development and coordination with efforts right below the anaerobic threshold. Develops relaxed leg speed, as this is your focus — and not a specific pace. Also develops strength if you incorporate sprinting up some hills.

Common mistakes:

Making this a structured workout with a time or pace goal.

Making this hard and anaerobic for long segments.

Not recovering between speed segments.


These develop relaxed speed at or close to your 5K-10K race pace. Improves your ability to run at anaerobic threshold where you are still aerobic and recycling lactate. Teaches pace judgment and relaxation with effort, and rehearses speeds of the race or test without the run being overly taxing. The goal is to feel a strong effort but far from all out.

You repeatedly cover a set distance or time interval with a recovery interval between each. Warm up for 10 minutes. Consider some light, quick and short strides to loosen up. Choose a distance or duration that you feel comfortable repeating. These can be measured in minutes or laps — for the purpose of these plans, we’ve measured them in minutes, with goal distances and paces included for the half-marathon and marathon plans. The total of the faster running can be five minutes for the beginner and up to 20 minutes for the more advanced runner. Usually the recovery interval will be of equal time to the faster interval.

For long-distance training, the rest is short. While training for shorter distances, the speed is fast with full recovery. Allow your heart rate to recover to the 120-130 bpm range so you feel ready to go again. Stop the workout if you struggle to hold your pace or suspect your form is compromised. Cool down with an easy 10-minute jog. Pace of the interval is not all-out, but stay near your 5K to 10K goal pace. You should always end this workout feeling as if you could do another interval if you had to.

Body adaptation: Develops relaxed speed. Raises anaerobic threshold by running at a pace at or slightly above this. Helps teach pacing and tolerance to oxygen debt — when your body can’t supply enough oxygen to your muscles for normal function.

Common mistakes:

Trying to run a specific time and running all-out and too fast. The times are not important. The physiological and strength adaptations are what matter.

Too short a recovery jog and not running the repetition well.

Racing these with training partners or joining a group above your level.


Many runners fear hills and avoid them, but running up and down hills at a comfortable pace with good technique develops strength as you run up. It’s like going to the gym for free — and you are outside! Running downhill is really fun as you develop relaxed speed and work on form.

The course can be a loop with a couple of hills ranging from a hundred meters to a half-mile. If you’re lucky to live in the mountains, you can climb for a couple of miles and then run swiftly down. As a beginner, do not try to run fast on the uphills. Keep tall with your chest up and open. Look forward and resist the tendency to look down and bend at the waist. Keep your stride short, and use your glutes to push and spring off the ground. Practice running efficiently and quickly on the downhills with faster turnover. Do not hit hard into the ground with an outstretched leg. Think: “Run over the ground and not into the ground.” On the uphills, your heart rate will exceed your maximum AHR but should still be below your anaerobic threshold.

Body adaptation: Leg strength (uphill); leg speed, coordination and mobility (downhill). Aerobic development, since the courses will involve running below your anaerobic threshold with most of the running relaxed and below your maximum AHR.

Common mistakes:

Running too fast and straining up the hill at the expense of good form and going into oxygen debt.

Running too hard with high impact on the downhills. Remember: Good downhill running is a skill.


Strides, also known as pickups, develop speed and coordination without running “hard.” This is a form of dynamic stretching, coordination and strength work, as distances are very short. No lactic acid accumulates. Doing a lot of anaerobic work inhibits aerobic development and is stressful. This should be fun! All animals (humans included) love to do short sprints. Strides make you a better runner for short and long events.

During a run, at the end of a run, or after a thorough warm-up, do four to eight pickups of 50 meters to 80 meters, gradually speeding up to a sprint, then slowing back down. A grass field is ideal. Accelerate naturally and progressively, and decelerate slowly. Give yourself a full recovery between each. The goal is to not develop lactic acid or fatigue. Each should feel progressively easier and quicker as you loosen up. Focus on form and relaxed speed.

Body adaptation: Strengthens and adds mobility to the key muscles and tendons used in running. Develops coordination and skill.

Common mistakes:

Running too hard and long for the strides so that your form breaks down.

Not recovering between strides and building up acidity in muscles.

Thinking of these as “workouts” that need to be done harder and faster each time.

Muscling through the strides without focusing on form.

When you feel coordinated, strong, pain free, and safe in your strides, only then should you attempt workouts focused around high intensity interval training (HIIT). The reward of this type of training is high, but so is the risk if your form and function are not correct.Related:

Related: Read the full PT365 Run Plans project here.

Mark Cucuzzella

Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. (Dr.) Mark Cucuzzella is a professor of family medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine. He is also designing programs to reduce running injuries in service members. He’s been a competitive runner for 30 years — with more than 100 marathon and ultramarathon finishes — and continues to compete as a national-level Masters runner. His marathon best is 2:24, and he’s won the Air Force Marathon twice, including in 2011 (2:38) a week shy of his 45th birthday.

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