This is one of my favorite workouts to practice pacing control — which is important at the beginning of a race. If you run the 800 in each set too quickly then you will be unable to hit the prescribed effort for the 400.
Having to run faster at the end of each set also teaches pushing on tired legs, which is both a physical and mental exercise.
This is a great workout for the track but can also easily be run on the roads/trails. I have a marked 800 meter road loop on rolling terrain that I like to use for this workout as it mimics road racing well.
Three to four sets of:
800 meters @ 10K perceived effort
60 seconds timed recovery
400 meters @ 5K perceived effort
2 minutes timed recovery
Photo: Kevin Claffey @forerunner555
The key component in executing this workout correctly is the rest interval after the 800 meters. It is important to stick to the 60 seconds recovery as this will keep you “in check” for not running the 800 too quickly.