Workout of the Day

Jose Macias (pictured in the crux of the workout) deals with the harsh metabolic and mental realities of this 5K specific session. 

Jose Macias (pictured in the crux of the workout) deals with the harsh metabolic and mental realities of this 5K specific session. 

2 x (8 x 400m @ 5% faster than 3K) 


Set 1 — 65.84 / 64.67 / 65.00 / 65.50 / 65.63 / 65.71 / 64.89 / 63.97

Set 2 — 67.07 / 64.81 / 64.42 / 63.94 / 63.11 / 63.32 / 63.18 / 62.04


  • 200m jog in 75" between 400m reps in a set 
  • 800m jog in 6:00 - 7:00 between sets 

Jose Macias — Mar. 22nd, 2017


Context & Details 

My final two years in scholastic coaching were spent as the Head Cross Country Coach and Assistant Track & Field Coach at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, Ore. For those keeping track, I was concurrently coaching at the professional/semi-professional level with High Performance West and junior college ranks from Summer 2015 - Spring 2017. You may wonder why, I have my reasons, but here is not the place to tell.

Oftentimes athletes accuse coaches of playing favorites. I do, in fact. I own it. And am 100% upfront about it. The athletes who listen the most to my guidance are my favorites. And Jose Macias in an all-time favorite of mine, he listened deeply and intently to my counsel for 3 years. 

Jose placed 6th at the 2015 USATF Junior Outdoor Championships in the 10K my last season coaching at Portland State University and set personal best marks of 14:55 for 5,000m and 31:21 for 10,000m while at Clackamas CC.

The workout he performed this day is a pure 5,000m preparation session. I typically place it about 10 — 12 days before the heart of 5,000m scholastic-athlete's event specific racing calendar. If done well it should sting, but not knockout the athlete as they are readying to race a series of legitimate 5Ks. And let's not forget that racing several 5Ks in a string of 3 — 5 weeks should get them more fit as well. You'll know you've set them up for success if the final 5K in the series is their most competitive or fastest (if time happens to be your main score card — it is not for me, but I am aware of it).

The intended paces for this workout are 5% faster than current 3,000m ability. At the time, I pegged Jose in roughly 8:30/3K fitness (68/400m), so our target was to have him endure reps at 65 - 64 second range (as 5% of 68" = 3.4"). I never tell athletes we are targeting 5% faster than current 3K fitness for a session like this. My opinion is prefacing a workout with mathematical language is too sterile of a construct and will tempt them to focus too much on the numbers rather than being present to the power of their emotions/experience. I frame it as "somewhat spicier than current 3K race speed, but not quite 1500m effort," this communicates the intended sentiment more to my liking. 

The session runs about 4 miles (or exactly 6,400m) of total quality. 

My repeated experience with this type of workout is it fosters a metabolic adaptation and psychological callousing which has a high transfer to increasing the athlete's capacity to tolerate the tough physiological and mental hardships they will face in a 5,000m race.

Jose hit a home run that session as he did that next several weeks of racing. He ran 4 meets in 5 weeks starting 11 days after this session. In week 1 he won a 1500m in 4:02, following it up with three honest 5,000m races in succession which he won & PR'd (15:12) in week 2, won & PR'd (14:57) in week 4, and culminating with a PR of 14:55 in week 5 — his most competitive 5K of the series and luckily his fastest.


Any questions? I'm happy to answer. You can send me a Direct Message on Twitter or email me at

Thx //  jm

Jonathan Marcus