Excerpted with permission from One Hour Workouts: 50 Swim, Bike & Run Workouts for Busy Athletes by Scott Molina, Mark Newton and Michael Jacques (VeloPress, 2010).

Out-and-back sessions are very easy and can be done anywhere. Out-and-backs are a type of progression run in which your effort and pace increases during the second half of the run. The goal is simply to negative-split the session, running out to a point and returning at a faster pace back to the original point. Ideally, you’ll be able to return 1-2 minutes faster than the time it took on the outbound part of the run.

When performed with a negative split, these sessions teach great pacing and tempo endurance to help you finish fast. They’ll help you develop the tools to run all the way to the line.

Time/Distance Description
10 min. Easy running (Zone 1)
20-40 min. Out-and-back intervals (Zone 3)
(The main set can also be repeated twice, such as 2 × 20 min.)
10 min. Easy running (Zone 2)

Sample Workouts

Time Description
20 min. 11 min. out, 9 min. back
30 min. 16 min. out, 14 min. back
40 min. 21 min., 19 min. back

Initially, you’ll find that your concentration and attention to holding constant leg speed and effort is significantly challenged. Often it will feel monotonous and like a countdown. As you perform the session more frequently, your focus on the task will improve, and the session will feel easier. Over time, you’ll often find you start the countdown much later into the session, but look forward to it.

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