When I competed in track in 1988–1992, we did what we were told. I don’t know anything about “block training” or “CNS.” So I can’t give any educated advice on where these workouts fit into a training cycle. All I know is that they killed me, and I can’t imagine one or more of these workouts not being beneficial to a large number of athletes. I have read numerous posts on the web from people who make their living training athletes, and I wanted to share my experiences so that you young guys might pick up a trick or two from the elite coaches I’ve had the pleasure of training under.

These are conditioning workouts. I’ve performed them on the track, street, in a park, and on a golf course. They are pretty short so intensity of the work internal is the key.

I’m going to list the work interval followed by the recovery interval in parentheses. Here is a list in ascending order of the worst, most annoying track workouts I was stupid enough ever to complete:

Two minutes (1 minute rest), 4 minutes (1 minute rest), 6 minutes (1 minute rest), 4 minutes (1 minute rest), 2 minutes: The intervals are run at a medium hard pace. This workout was designed by Rolf Krumann and Paul Schmidt of western Germany. It is basically a rest/pause time trial. They devised it as a workout to help 400-meter runners wishing to move up to 800 meters get in some quality distance work, which they aren’t accustomed. I suck at distance work, and this workout helped me to gain some much needed overall conditioning. It could benefit most athletes. You can manipulate the intervals anyway you want. For example, I preferred to do 2 minutes (1 minute rest), 3 minutes (1 minute rest), 4 minutes (1 minute rest), 3 minutes (1 minute rest), 2 minutes.

One minute hard (1 minute easy): Essentially you warm up (for me usually a mile run) and then nail 1 minute hard followed by an easy 1 minute jog. In my younger days, I tried to maintain a 60–70 second, 400-meter pace for the 1 minute hard interval. Now, my goal is not to hurl in front of my neighbors. I absolutely suck at this. It is one of the most basic running workouts, but it kills me. I think the most I ever did of this crap was six sets. Pencil neck distance runners can do it all day. Most athletes or powerlifters hoping to increase some GPP could benefit from as little as 2–3 sets.

Three minutes medium: 1 minute hard: 10 seconds all out: This creator of this workout, Loren Seagrave, claims it hits all three energy systems. I think he means the lactic acid, glycogen system, and oxygen system, but don’t quote me. An example would be:

3 minute jog at 8 minute mile pace

1 minute run at 4–4:30 mile pace

10 seconds all out

The 10 second burst after 1 minute hard is a real gut check, and it sets you up for a challenging 3 minute recovery into the next set. I think the most I’ve ever done of this is about six sets, and I covered about three miles. Any athlete could get a good workout from as little as 2–3 sets.

Two hundred meter (1.5 minutes rest), 400 meters (3 minutes rest), 200 meters (1.5 minutes rest), 200 meters: All intervals are to be done faster than the athletes current 800-meter pace. This is actually a scientific way to predict an athlete’s 800-meter time. It is probably only a workout for track athletes, but I included it anyway because I don’t know who you guys coach. I dreaded this on the way to the track, and I actually couldn’t believe I finished it.

Three hundred meter (brisk 100-meter jog), 300 meters: This workout was a staple of the training programs of Brooks Johnson, the former Stanford and US Olympic track team coach. It is the hardest, most lactic acid inducing workout I’ve ever done. The 300-meter sprints induce lactic acid on their own. The 300-meters almost back to back with a quick 100-meter jog recovery are horrible. Remember, these 300 meters are run hard even though they are back to back. Johnson advocates doing three sets of this nightmare. The first time I tried it, I did one set and it took me half an hour to recover enough to walk to the car. I don’t think I ever did more than two sets. If there is one speed endurance workout you should have your athletes do, this is it. It tests speed, speed endurance, sprinting form, and guts all at once. I was surprisingly able to match the time of my first 300, but the second 300 was an exercise in concentration, sprinting form, and the will to improve.