Workout of the Day

Tara Welling  pictured winning her first US national title, the 2016 USATF 15K Road Race Championships in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Tara Welling pictured winning her first US national title, the 2016 USATF 15K Road Race Championships in Jacksonville, Florida. 

5 Mile  / 3 Mile / 1.5 Mile


  • 5 Mile — 5:35 + 5:31 + 5:32 + 5:33 + 5:31 = 22:42
  • 3 Mile — 5:23 + 5:26 + 5:25 = 16:14
  • 1.5 Mile — 5:04 + 2:29 = 7:33

Recovery: 8' jogging between reps

Tara Welling — January 30th, 2016


Context & Details

Three days after Tara's 3 x 2000m @ 5K + 4 x 1000m @ 3K workout I detailed several WOTD installments previously, she performed this 15K focused session. 

One of Tara's target races in 2016 was the USATF 15K Road Race Championships in March. She wanted to win. I thought she'd have a legitimate shot at victory if she could run unstressed at roughly 5:25mile/pace for the first 10K and then press at 5:00/mile pace for the final 5K. This workout was designed to get a clear sense of how far off she was from being capable of such.

We had six weeks to prepare, which I thought was adequate time to address any fitness gaps exposed by this session. I honestly didn't know if she could meet the ask that day.  Remember, she was only 72 hours off from a stout 5K/3K session. So she wasn't 100% recovered going into it.

At the time, 5:30/mile pace was Tara's default Threshold rhythm (again, I define Threshold as the steady rhythm an athlete can run for 1 hour). So 5 Miles was not a particularly difficult ask, rather a preface designed to fatigue her a little more than she already was.  The 3 Mile and 1.5 Mile segments were the heart of the session. Here is where I wanted to create the harsh circumstances we thought she'd face come race day. 

The 3 Mile portion was tough. But she held form valiantly. It required a lot of focus on her part, 5:25s felt like 5:15s. That was by design. And is what she reported after the 3 Mile rep. 

The 1.5 Mile rep was designed to be quite abrasive. She was asked to hit 5:05 for the first mile, then "run your guts out" the final 800m. The tax felt from the 5K/3K workout days before and the preceding 8 Miles of work within the session would make the last half mile as close to end of race 15K conditions as we could create. 

I was curious to see what would happen. I didn't know. How she fared over the final 800m would tell me a lot about what gaps we needed to address moving forward. The entire workout (and week's training) was designed as a set up for this half mile — the education it would afford us was the real treasure sought.  

Tara is a fighter. She scrapped her way to a 2:29 final 800m. It wasn't easy. She exhausted herself to do it. She didn't let up at any point that day, pressing all the way. Seeing how she executed that final 1.5 Mile rep told me a lot. It allowed me to better craft her programming in hopes of adequately readying her to race for a 15K national title. 

Six weeks later, she claimed the national title sought — the first of her career. At Mile 3 in the race she pounced, separated herself from a capable field and never looked back, winning by 40 seconds. The race which we prepared her for never materialized. But had it, she would have been ready.


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Thx // jm

Jonathan Marcus