What it is: 3 x 2 mile tempo* with 20-30 second pace change between mile one and two, 2 min recovery.
What to do: Pick a pace you can’t quite maintain for a 6 mile tempo run today, but hope to a few months from now. You will not run that pace today. Instead, for each 2 mile rep, you’ll run the first mile 10-15 seconds slower than that pace, and the second mile 10-15 seconds faster than that pace. This means there will be a 20-30 second pace difference as you switch between mile one and mile two. The first mile should feel pretty easy; try to maintain that same mental ease for as long as you can during mile two.
The more you can mentally relax at those faster paces, the better effect the workout will have on you. Do your best to keep a rhythm to your breathing, and keep your heart rate from going gonzo. After you master the Switchblade a few times, you can reduce the recovery from 2 minutes to 1 minute.
Why it’s awesome: Straight-up tempo runs, while sometimes necessary, are super boring and suck out my will to live. This approach is way more fun, and has unique physiological benefits. By playing with paces slightly quicker and slightly slower than your tempo pace in the same workout, you can trick your body into learning to process lactic acid at quicker paces. I call this “flirting” with your threshold.
*Tempo runs are massively important to improving as a runner, whether your race is 800m or the marathon. Generally speaking, you know you’re running tempo if it’s annoyingly grindy, you can’t speak more than short sentences, and effort is about 7 or 8 out of 10. Another way to measure is by heart rate, aiming for 80-87% of your max.
Let me know how The Switchblade goes this week. It’ll be fun to stalk everyone on Strava and social! Remember to include #TheSwitchblade hashtag.