Coaches Corner: Workouts I Love

Photo by Dan McCauley

By Amy Begley, Atlanta Track Club Elite Coach

Everyone has a love-hate relationship with running workouts.  Some people don’t do prescribed workouts and just run miles.  Others like the grind of tempos and mile repeats and some prefer the lactic acid inducing short speed intervals.

A few of my favorite workouts include the workouts known as the 600 breakdown, mile down and the classic time trial.   Each of these workouts serves a different purpose.  The 600 breakdown and mile down both work speed while the mile down also adds strength.  The time trial is more of an indicator workout and confidence builder.  As a professional athlete, I would do a 5K time trial ten days prior to a 10K race. There were times that I ran a 5K personal best or close to it in the time trial.  That gave me confidence going into the race.

The 600 breakdown:

2-4 sets of:

  • 600 meters hard – 400 meters easy
  • 400 meters hard – 400 meters easy
  • 300 meters hard – 300 meters easy
  • 200 meters hard – 200 or 400 meters easy between sets.

Prior to a big race I would only do two sets.  During the year, I would do three to four sets.  It looks easy but the pace for each repeat gets faster and faster progressing to the 200 meters which is almost all out.

The Mile Down:

  • 1600 meters hard – 600 meters easy
  • 1200 meters hard – 600 meters easy
  • 800 meters hard – 400 meters easy
  • 600 meters hard – 400 meters easy
  • 400 meters hard – 200 meters easy
  • 300 meters hard – 200 meters easy
  • 200 meters all out

The hard part of this workout adds up to 5,100 meters.  It is a great workout for 5K races.  You can add to the difficulty and go back up the ladder to double the volume.

The workouts are best done on a track or measured loop, however you can do them on the treadmill.

Time Trial

The time trial is done ten days to four weeks prior to a big race or at the beginning of a training cycle.  If done at the beginning of a training cycle, it is your starting point on which you can base your training.  The range for when to run a time trial varies depending on the race.   Marathoners would use a half marathon race as a time trial four weeks prior to the marathon.  For those running a 10K, ten days out is usually the last hard effort and a good time for a time trial.  The time trial should be run at race effort or even use a race as a time trial.  This is the best time to test your fitness before the goal race.

No matter what workouts you pick, the key is to get into a groove and find a schedule that works for you.


About Atlanta Track Club
Atlanta Track Club is a nonprofit committed to creating an active and healthy Atlanta. Through running and walking, Atlanta Track Club motivates, inspires and engages the community to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. With more than 27,000 members, Atlanta Track Club is the second largest running organization in the United States. In addition to the AJC Peachtree Road Race ( – the largest 10K running event in the world, the Publix Georgia Marathon, PNC Atlanta 10 Miler and Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, Atlanta Track Club directs more than 30 events per year. Through the support of its members and volunteers, Atlanta Track Club also maintains a number of community initiatives including organizing and promoting the Kilometer Kids youth running program to metro Atlanta youth, honoring high school cross country and track and field athletes through Atlanta Track Club’s All-Metro Banquets and supporting the Grady Bicycle EMT program. For more information on Atlanta Track Club, visit