The Walk and Run Middle Distance Workout - Working with an Active Recovery

How can a middle distance runner use a walk run workout? I did these types of workouts when I ran competitively in high school and college. For the track team I had a pretty good range. My shortest race was the 400 meter dash. The longest event I would take part in was the 3200 in high school and the 3000 meter steeplechase in college.

If you told me to do a walk and run workout back then, I would have said “Never! I don’t walk.” I really did, but we didn’t call our workouts walk/runs. We called walking “an active recovery.” It basically is fancy terminology that a coach uses so he doesn’t have to tell his stubborn athletes to walk.

Here’s how we incorporated walking into a running workout. Many of my interval workouts on the track were really walk-runs.

An example that we did in high school was the 300-100 workout. We would run the 300 pretty hard, and have a 35-40 second walk for 100 meters back to the start line. (One lap on the track is 400 meters total). Then it was time to do another 300. These workouts were tough, because you were constantly moving. I recall one workout where the 300’s had to be quite fast. The 300 was a total of 55 seconds (pretty quick), and the walk was 35 seconds. After eight laps it worked out to be a 12:00 Two Mile Run. (Technically a 12 minute 3200).

In college, at the beginning of the season, our coach really wanted to push are aerobic capabilities. We would run 400 meter repeats with one minute rest between each 400. The rest would involve walking on a diagonal through the infield of the track to the 200 meter mark. Then we would run another 400. When that one was done, we would walk back to the start line.

If you are hard headed like I was in high school and college, you don’t have to call these workouts a walk and run. Call them an interval workout with active recovery. It sounds much better.

The toughest workout of my life probably was the first workout after Spring Break in college. It was a Walk and Run Middle Distance Workout. I had just arrived back in town after a 28 hour drive with seven of my teammates. Our coach greeted us with a brutal workout. The plan was 12x400 intervals with one minute recovery. The recovery involved walking quickly across the diagonal between the start line and the 200 meter mark.

On top of the quick recovery, each 400 had to be between 66-70 seconds. That was relatively quick. I was determined to see this run through even though I was dog tired. If you strayed from the pace too much, our coach would pull you off the track. I decided that I had to run at 69-70 seconds just to survive. There would be no going 66 or under.

Remarkably, I survived. However only two of the eight Spring Breakers made it through the workout. I think my coach was hoping we all were going to not make it. As you can see, a walk and run middle distance workout can be extremely tough.

- Written by David Tiefenthaler

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