Threshold Run Workouts: Improve Your Speed and Endurance with These 5 Challenging Sessions

Photo of author

The threshold run, also known as the tempo run, is a key training technique used by runners to improve their performance and endurance. It involves running at a steady pace, just below your lactate threshold, for an extended period of time. This pace is typically around 80-90% of your maximum effort, allowing you to sustain a challenging but manageable intensity.

Benefits of the Threshold Run

Incorporating threshold runs into your training regimen can bring about numerous benefits. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Improved Endurance: Threshold runs help increase your aerobic capacity, allowing you to run faster for longer periods of time. By training just below your lactate threshold, you gradually improve your body’s ability to clear lactic acid, delaying the onset of fatigue.
  2. Enhanced Speed: Regular tempo runs can also boost your speed by improving your running economy. As your body becomes more efficient at utilizing oxygen, you’ll be able to maintain a faster pace without expending excessive energy.
  3. Increased Mental Toughness: Threshold runs are mentally demanding, requiring you to maintain a challenging pace for an extended duration. By pushing through discomfort and fatigue, you develop mental resilience, which can be invaluable during races or challenging workouts.
  4. Muscular Strength and Power: Running at a higher intensity during threshold runs engages your fast-twitch muscle fibers, helping to develop strength and power. Uphill sprints, in particular, can be incorporated to further enhance lower body strength.
  5. Improved Speed and Fitness: Intense intervals, a form of threshold training, involve alternating between high-intensity efforts and short recovery periods. This type of workout improves your anaerobic capacity, enabling you to run faster and more efficiently.

Now that we’ve explored the benefits of threshold running, let’s dive into five challenging workouts you can incorporate into your training routine.

Workout #1: The Classic Tempo Run to Enhance Your Endurance

The tempo run is the foundation of threshold training. Here’s a sample workout you can try:

  1. Warm up with 10 minutes of easy jogging.
  2. Run at a comfortably hard pace (around 80-90% of your maximum effort) for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Cool down with 10 minutes of easy jogging.

Remember to maintain a consistent pace throughout the tempo run, focusing on your breathing and form. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your tempo runs as you progress.

Workout #2: Intense Intervals to Boost Speed and Fitness

Intervals are a great way to improve your speed and overall fitness. Here’s a challenging interval workout to try:

  1. Warm up with 10 minutes of easy jogging.
  2. Run at a fast pace (90-95% of your maximum effort) for 2 minutes.
  3. Recover with 2 minutes of slow jogging or walking.
  4. Repeat the sequence for a total of 6-8 intervals.
  5. Cool down with 10 minutes of easy jogging.

This workout pushes your anaerobic threshold, improving your ability to sustain a faster pace. As you progress, aim to increase the duration or intensity of the intervals.

Workout #3: Uphill Sprints for Increased Strength and Power

Uphill sprints are an excellent way to build lower body strength and power. Here’s an example workout:

  1. Warm up with 10 minutes of easy jogging.
  2. Find a moderate hill with a gradual incline.
  3. Sprint uphill at maximum effort for 30 seconds.
  4. Walk or jog back down for recovery.
  5. Repeat the sequence for a total of 6-8 sprints.
  6. Cool down with 10 minutes of easy jogging.

Uphill sprints engage your glutes, hamstrings, and calves, improving your overall leg strength and power. Over time, you can increase the number of sprints or choose steeper inclines to further challenge yourself.

Workout #4: Fartlek Training to Improve Speed and Mental Toughness

Fartlek, a Swedish term meaning “speed play,” is a versatile training method that combines tempo running with intervals. Here’s a sample fartlek workout:

  1. Warm up with 10 minutes of easy jogging.
  2. Alternate between fast-paced running and easy jogging for 30-60 seconds each.
  3. Repeat the sequence for a total of 20-30 minutes.
  4. Cool down with 10 minutes of easy jogging.

Fartlek training allows you to experiment with different paces and intensities, making it an effective way to improve both speed and mental toughness.

Workout #5: Progressive Runs for Building Stamina and Resilience

Progressive runs involve gradually increasing your pace over the course of a run. Here’s how you can incorporate them into your training:

  1. Warm up with 10 minutes of easy jogging.
  2. Start running at a comfortable pace and gradually increase your speed every 5-10 minutes.
  3. Aim to finish the run at a hard but sustainable effort level.
  4. Cool down with 10 minutes of easy jogging.

Progressive runs help develop stamina and resilience by teaching your body to sustain a faster pace as fatigue sets in. Start with shorter distances and gradually increase the duration as you build your fitness.

Conclusion: Incorporating Threshold Runs for Optimal Performance

Threshold runs are a valuable tool for runners of all levels, offering a range of benefits from improved endurance and speed to increased mental toughness and strength. By incorporating the five challenging workouts outlined above, you can enhance your training routine and achieve optimal performance.

Remember to listen to your body, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts, and consult with a professional if you have any concerns or injuries.


Q: How often should I incorporate threshold runs into my training?

A: The frequency of threshold runs depends on your overall training plan and goals. However, a general recommendation is to include one to two threshold workouts per week, with adequate recovery days in between.

Q: Can beginners benefit from threshold runs?

A: Yes, beginners can benefit from incorporating threshold runs into their training. However, it’s important to start with shorter durations and gradually increase the intensity as fitness improves. Consult with a running coach or professional for personalized guidance.

Q: Is it necessary to track heart rate during threshold runs?

A: Tracking heart rate can provide valuable insights into your effort level and help ensure that you’re training within the desired threshold range. However, it’s not essential. Listening to your body and maintaining a comfortably hard pace can also be effective.

Q: How long does it take to see improvements from threshold training?

A: The time it takes to see improvements varies depending on individual factors such as current fitness level, training consistency, and genetic predisposition. However, with consistent training, most runners can expect to see noticeable improvements within a few weeks to a couple of months.

Q: Can I combine threshold runs with other types of training, such as strength training?

A: Yes, combining threshold runs with strength training can be beneficial for overall performance. Strength training helps improve muscle strength and power, which can enhance running economy and prevent injuries. Ensure proper recovery and balance between the two types of training.

Q: How can I prevent injury while incorporating threshold runs?

A: To prevent injury, it’s important to gradually increase the intensity and duration of your threshold runs. Incorporate rest days and cross-training activities to allow for recovery. Additionally, maintain proper running form, wear appropriate shoes, and listen to your body for any signs of pain or overexertion.

Q: Can I do threshold runs on a treadmill or should I focus on outdoor running?

A: Threshold runs can be performed both on a treadmill and outdoors. While outdoor running offers variations in terrain and natural elements, treadmills provide controlled conditions, allowing you to maintain a consistent pace and monitor key metrics. Choose the option that suits your preferences and available resources.

Leave a Comment