Workout of the Day
3 x 3,000m
Splits: 10:37, 10:30, 10:22
Recovery: 800m jog in 6' after each rep
Camelia Mayfield — Feb. 20, 2015
Context & Details
We coaches often identify certain sessions as useful check-ins for athletes training for specific events. As a college coach, 3 x 3K was my go-to check-in workout for 10K runners. Often I'd place it about six weeks out before an upcoming 10K. How an athlete ran the session offered a clear signal as to their progress, or sometimes, lack there of.
Camelia was made for the 10K. She owned the event as an undergrad at Portland State, twice qualifying for the NCAA Prelims in the event, and her senior year establishing a #3 all-time PSU program mark. Not too shabby for an unrecruited walk-on from Southern Oregon.
You could say progressive 3K repeats are a perfect VO2 Max workout. But I've never put too much emphasis in VO2 Max markers. It is something I consider, but not the sole consideration and purpose to measure the effectiveness of a training session or program. Simply, I see VO2 Max as a piece of the performance puzzle for distance runners, but not as the answer.
With this workout, I ask the athlete to treat it like a progressive broken 10K (even though it is only 9K of work volume). The first 3K is ran at date 10K pace, the next slightly faster (roughly 1 second/lap) and the final rep at goal 10K pace, which for Camelia was 34:30. I've found this helps to effectively condition the 10K athlete for the demands of their upcoming race. Camelia is a great example as she ran 34:35 for a big personal best at Stanford in early April that year.
Since racing 25 laps takes a toll on even the most prepared athletes, it isn't prudent to be constantly racing the event throughout the track season. This session offers exposure and familiarization to that unique 10K grind feeling without too heavy of a stress tax for the effort. If the athlete is performing the session within their capabilities, they can increase the tempo each rep and finish up the final 3K rep at a chipper clip.
Ideally at the end of the workout they'll feel accomplished about the work they just did, but also excited by the fact they got faster rep by rep. And hopefully, that enthusiasm carries over throughout the rest of the training cycle leading into their forthcoming 10K and, most importantly, in the difficult final 1,000m stretch on race day.